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By Chris Parker
Cobra Verde

Nomadic minstrel gypsies, Cobra Verde dabble like dilettantes, delivering a variety show of styles from a tent pitched in the art/glam rock '70s. Rich in atmosphere, Cobra Verde recognize the virtues of setting, and like longtime band heroes Brian Eno, David Bowie and Mark Bolan, their approach is more stylized than your typical four-on-the-floor rock attack.

What makes this album special is its eclecticism. Lead guitarist and singer John Petkovic changes styles like Jeff Gordon changes lanes, sliding easily from the bluesy, Orleans rag of "What Makes a Man a Man" to the woozy, pedal-steel, Western blues of "Back to Venus" to the flare-collared, organ rock of "Heaven in the Gutter" and "Tourist." While obvious influences abound, the sensation of déjà vu is brief - such as the claustrophobic opening of "Don't Let Me Love You," as Petkovic cops a Nick Cave-ish drawl over a low bass and skeletal dance track that momentarily recalls early NIN.

Other times the borrowing is more egregarious - the hot riff from the Buzzcock's "Something Goes Wrong Again" on "Crashing in a Plane," for example, or the straight-forward lifting of Bowie's "Space Oddity" for "Conflict." Considering all the cross-pollination, the result is, surprisingly, not a mish-mash but an enjoyable tour-de-force.

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