Random Records with Steve O
Cobra Skulls - American RubiconSteve O - September 15, 2015
So I’ll admit it, I was a little late getting into Cobra Skulls. I remember friends trying to talk me into going to see them, being a little baffled that I didn’t really listen to them. “I’m surprised you don’t like them,” I remember being told. It even took a while after seeing Cobra Skulls live before I got hooked in. And it was largely due to their second record, 2009’s American Rubicon.
After the slow delay of “Time and Pressure,” we come upon a stretch of smart, quick, and catchy songs that highlight the lyrical skills of frontman Devin Peralta. “There’s a Skeleton in my Military Industrial Closet” explores the big business that is the modern military-industrial complex; “Muniphobia” is a minute-long blast about public transportation, done Dead Kennedys style; while “Overpopulated” is a ska-style jam about, obviously, population pressure. In the second half of the record, we get “Bad Apples,” calling out the violent, hardline, straight edge scene, opening with the brilliant, not-so-subtle lines “I don’t think that Ian / Would approve of what I’m seeing / The substance you abuse / I call another human being.” And despite all the serious political messages bandied about, there’s still a sense of humor here. Example A, the title of the instrumental track in the middle of the record: “I Used to Like Them When they put ‘Cobra’ in the Titles,” referencing debut record Sitting Army, in which the word “cobra” is in every song title.
For a while, this was my favorite Cobra Skulls record. Something finally clicked and I got what everyone had been trying to tell me for a while. From the variety of the ska-infused “Overpopulated,” to the stripped down feel of “Timing” and “One Day I’ll Never,” to the straight-up, fast-paced punk anthems such as “Back to the Youth” and “Rebel Fate,” there’s something for everyone here and there’s the Cobra Skulls trademarks: some singing in Spanish and some nice acoustic tracks. And in time I really got into Sitting Army, now my favorite of the Cobra Skulls discography. But it was sophomore full length American Rubicon, which converted me. Cobra Skulls released the equally great Agitations in 2011 before calling it quits two years later. Head over here to give American Rubicon a listen and let’s collectively remember this awesome band and wish they were still around.