Cotton Mather: Kontiki

kontikiThis one falls under the Great Forgotten Album category. Its a little record that was released in 1997 by a Beatles indebted band called Cotton Mather. Fronted by singer/chief songwriter, the aptly named Robert Harrison, Cotton Mather remained virtually unknown (even in their home town of Austin, Texas) until miniscule Manc Noel Gallagher started singing Kontiki’s virtues in the press. Heck, Cotton Mather even supported Oasis for a spell. Didn’t really do much; it certainly didn’t make them a household name, at any rate. Truthfully, I hadn’t heard of them until I happened across a pretty cool double album a few years ago entitled Future Clouds and Radar. It was pretty much a solo effort by…you guessed it…Robert Harrison, and it’s an album I still find pretty refreshing. It could have been edited a little more judiciously, but 75% of it is made up of terrific little pop gems. It is definitely worth a listen or four.

Kontiki is not quite as polished as Future Clouds and Radar and is all the better for it. It may be lazy to make a Beatles comparison, but in this case a review would not be possible without one. There is no getting around the fact that Harrison’s voice is a dead ringer for John Lennon’s. Harrison himself has described it as “Lennon with a southern drawl and a head cold”, and that’s a pretty fair statement. The songs are more Rubber Soul and Revolver than Sgt. Peppers/White album, but there is enough originality here to make this one of the better bands to blatantly utilize this era as an influence. Certainly this album is better than anything Oasis ever did (well, I still dig Definitely Maybe…).

 It is a pretty great little record and recommended for fans of the Fab Four, Tame Impala, ELO, Badfinger, Big Star.