By Bill Copeland on January 13, 2013
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Preston Cochran’s new CD Stumble Into Tomorrow is a modern pop-rock gem. Cochran has that one in a million distinct vocal timbre that sets him apart from everybody else while drawing immediate attention to himself. His roots in classic rock give this new sound a slight familiarity to older rock and rollers while his eccentric guitar and keyboard phrases keep him fresh and vital. Although Cochran remains down tempo, low key, and mellow for too much of the album, he succeeds in creating his own alluring, unique soundscapes.
Cochran opens this disc with “A Building Charred,” a contemplative lyrical journey that takes you for its ride through the subconscious. Its burning, driving, spiraling sound has a destination in mind, and it’s determined to get there. A mesh of good things are going on. Cochran’s oddly smooth timbre flows over an edgy bass line and ringing guitar line. Its keyboards draw you right in with their unique tinkling. Its acoustic guitar makes the listener feel welcome with its earthy strum. The electric guitar rides out like a magic carpet gliding on a sweet warm breeze. There is certainly a special quality when Cochran sums it up with two questions: “Do you still love rock and roll?/Does the kick drum move your soul?”
“Summer Flings” is a breath of fresh air. This keyboard driven pop-rocker finds Cochran doing his magic in a softer, more inviting vocal. There is a certain allure in an interval of sweet keyboard notes. Bass lines burble and bounce with unusual fun while keeping the rest of the tune anchored, under control. You can predict Cochran resuscitating the local indie rock scene with his unusual sounds. He goes into his chorus and you feel, once again, that you’re in the hands of an artist who is taking you somewhere special.
“Plain To See” rides a more palpable rhythm section groove while the electric guitar melody by Alan Weatherhead rings pretty in every note. Cochran gives off an easy going, 1960s hippie vibe. He deals out his vocal phrase in perfectly measured doses in this amicable plea to someone who is falling out of love with him. Cochran’s rhythm section features bass player Stewart Meyers and drummer Miguel Urbiztondo. The two put an extra kick into the rolling rhythmic drive,
“Junkyard” skates by on the strength of a gentle but firm rhythm section and a light touch of electric piano and breezy synth line. Cochran finds in his range and timbre a perfect match for the surreal melodic line in the electric and acoustic guitars. His keyboard melody is simple yet somehow strangely alluring in the notes he’s hitting. There is a hint of early Sid Barrett Pink Floyd and The Beatles in their experimental songs. Cochran definitely creates a sonic landscape that feels like its own surrealistic world in which he’s the pied piper, leading his listeners into a strange and special place that we wants everybody to understand.
A breezy, enveloping texture of acoustic guitar, synthesizer, and piano wrap around Cochran’s sublime vocal phrase on “Lovely.” This down tempo gentle whisper of a song is loaded with emotive qualities in the sweep of everything going on around the singer. Cochran coaxes the listener into following him, once again, into his sublime view of the world.
Cochran and his players drive more forcefully into their other down tempo rocker “Made Of Two.” The knobby, bulbous rhythm section drives it while the electric guitar plays huge waves of grungy rock. From that launching pad, Cochran does his usual smooth sublime vocal thing. He also plays a penetrating electric piano line that sharpens the song into something you’d like to listen to more closely.
“Disguise And Dispel” finds Cochran’s susurant of a vocal caressing the pared down melody. A brittle electric guitar line and a shadowing piano mesh and create yet another unique Cochran sonic texture. There’s also dollop of talent in the seemingly simple rhythm section support. The bass adds a lot to the darker colors of this tune.
“Back To You” is a fine wash of keyboards sailing over an involving beat. Cochran sings in a sweet, plaintive voice that makes you sympathetic to him. This song is ear candy and heart candy at the same time. The boys is full of deep feeling, and his sense of how to inflect and control his vocal is way beyond a college freshmen.
“It’s Not Fair” begins with sweet brittle melodies and more of Cochran’s soft timbre plaintiveness. Guitar notes ring out beautifully while the boy does his vocal magic, phrasing each verse with special care. He really grabs your ears when he gets more emotionally intense, the drama and the music exploding as one huge measure of expression.
“Remain” is a solo acoustic expression of Cochran’s artistic aims. While his presentation is pared down, he is still an artist with a large measure of sound. Even before his keyboard melody kicks in with its pleasant touches, Cochran is a larger than life presence in the song. There is something special going on with his distinct vocal timbre and the dollops of emotive expression in each verse. The delicate balance of acoustic guitar with tiny keyboard nuggets accomplishes much with little.
Preston Cochran is certainly going places. At his level of artistry, he’d have to work hard not to succeed.
Posted in CD Reviews