New Music: Chris Colepaugh’s ‘RnR’

If you’re looking for an infusion of southern inspired rock greased with some rhythm & blues, and packed with all the energy of a live album, you’ve found it. After a break of six years Chris Colepaugh and the Cosmic Crew has released their 8th studio album, RnR

Emerging in 1996, the Moncton based trio spent the better part of the last two decades touring Canada and the US fronting for acts such as Big Sugar, and Southern rock jam giant Gov’t Mule.  Made famous for their emphasis of boogie rhythms and roaring guitars, inspiration from these hardliners is clearly heard within the finesse of Colepaugh’s blues infused riffs.

While Colepaugh has saturated his fans in the past with the prominent sound of his organic vocals and elaborate guitar, RnR has introduced us to a stripped down variation; the bare necessities emanating a sound reminiscent of 1970’s rock and roll in its simplest form.

The opening track ‘Stateless’ is introduced with a heavy beat from Nico Quintal on drums complimented by Colepaugh’s simple guitar melody. It’s a throwback that could be mistaken for a Guess Who concert. Lynn’s bass thrum completes that foundation and leads the listener though a muddle of vocals into the true highlight of the number where Colepaugh ultimately shines in his signature move: the solo section.

Another highlight from the track list is ‘The Ghosts’ where Colepaugh does a complete three-sixty, pumping out a punk rock tone with raw vocals, and whomping bass lines. The fast pace wakes you up from the mid-tempo repetition of the rest of the album and is something you can actually bob your head too, focusing heavily on drums and bass. While Colepaugh’s guitar still sings in the background, it’s an opportunity for the other two members to step into the lead for a change, allowing for a fully utilized sound.

Breaking away from the rudimentary haze is the second last song on the album ‘Thinkin’ About You’. While it is certainly a lot slower than other tracks, Colepaugh and Lynn’s precision unison and harmony pull at you while Quintal’s build on the drums makes the song come to life – adding needed emotion that continuously builds into the anticipated release of Colepaugh’s solo at the end of the song.

From beginning to end, RnR is a set that needs to be witnessed live. It is not hard to miss that Colepaugh is the front and centre of the group, and at times masks the essential support needed from bass and drums. It brings into question if the band’s name should be ‘Chris Colepaugh and The Other Guys’. The lyrical content is strong but did not shine through the often murky vocals. What Chris lacks in voice, he makes up for with his impressive guitar skill which is the true beauty of the album. Though the recorded version has that live atmosphere, it lacks the excitement of a witnessed performance. Chris Colepaugh and the Cosmic Crew’s talent is one that is best experienced in person. With upcoming touring dates, you will be able to catch the trio in numerous locations across New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island this year.

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