Communing with Cool Cat-centric Music: A Review of “Cool Cat Funk” and Interview with Olivi, the Guitarist and Principle Singer
“Cool Cat Funk” is an enjoyable listen, giving new meaning to the term “laid back,” and taking the listener back to the less stressful, easy-going moments of the 70s. In fact, these tunes could have been written then. Whether it’s the “Leon Haywood-esque” flirtatious guitar styling in “Tooday Loseday,” or the scraping excellence of the Super Guiro in “Cool Cat Funkn,” reminiscent of that found in “Oye Como Va,” Cool Cat Funk is pure 70s stoner funk bliss.
There are not too many surprises on this album apart from the occasional musical (versus lyrical) ones, such as the complexity of the instrumental intermingling in parts of “Smile at the World.”
The lyrics are straight-forward. In looking through a wider collection of their work, I stumbled onto a good example from a 2017 single called “Vanuatu (We’ll Always Have).” A song about a relationship ending, we learn that “you said the wrong things, made me mad. It’s just a mess, f*ck the rest.” This jilted lover is so cool and honey-tongued throughout the entire song, one wonders how emotionally invested he was in the first place. He seems to be over it, and the uber-cool persona seen throughout the album Cool Cat Funk shows up here as well. I don’t know whether to be jealous that this guy appears to slide through life never undone or upset, or if I am prone to crave more lyrical and emotional tension in my rock music.
“CCF#1” is an upbeat opener to the album, followed by “Foxey Z,” a casual stroll through a hazy, hot summer day. (I found myself wondering what Jimi Hendrix would say about “Foxey Z.”) Casual whistling is utilized in “Smile at the World” and “Cielo Azul,” Cool Cat gets his Don Juan on in “Tooday Loseday,” enjoys hot tubbing under starry skies in “Cool Cat Funkn,” and in “Seas of Please,” the singer nonchalantly tells us “we’re all cool here” (as if it had ever been in question). I recently caught up with Olivi, the guitarist and principle singer for Cool Cat Funk:
RVM: Given the state that our nation is in, with the racially fueled disputes, the multiple shootings per month, the political upheaval and other controversies, will there be a Cool Cat Funk song that addresses issues like these?
O: Cool Cat Funk isn’t so much like overtly political. It’s more like singing about the things that we like and we want. The things we want to create for ourselves; like water, pure water, for instance. Relaxing with the ones we love, things of that nature rather than a political outlet.
RVM: How big do you want this to get, as far as fame, fortune, and exposure goes?
O: For me, it’s not really about that at all. It’s more about an imperative need within…to express that part of ourselves [as artists] in order to feel whole…The goal would be just to be able to play with more rad people.
RVM: Tell me about the second album that I heard you have “in the works.”
O: Right now we have…five tunes that are maybe like 80 percent recorded and we’ve got new ones that we’re working on…it probably won’t realistically be ready until next spring.
RVM: What is your favorite part of the creative process?
O: The songs. When a new song comes through…I’ve been just having a lot of songs come through recently, and we just had a rehearsal a couple days ago and we were jammin’ out on a couple of the new tracks and it was super fun to have the guys add their parts to it, drums and bass and percussion…that’s my favorite part.”
Cool Cat Funk will perform at Oberon’s in Ashland on Friday, Oct. 4