Songs of the Cows
Jim Thomas, guitar
Allen Whitman, bass
Martyn Jones, drums
Release date: February 21, 1996
Produced by Jim Thomas
Executive Producer: Jim Snowden
Recorded by Damien Rasmussen
Mastered by Paul Stubblebine/Rocket Labs
"...the epic sweep of 'Curve,' the spellbinding 'Varykino Snow' and 'A Heart with Paper Walls,' a bittersweet waltz. So much ground gets covered here--from acid rock to free-form jazz..."
--The Plain Dealer
"...The Mermen are experts at taking Jim's evocative compositions and turning them into technicolor tales...(his) elegant guitar work and the depth provided by the rhythm section make it easy to dream along to the music...The hopeful promise of 'Varykino Snow' dissolves into the sadness of 'A Heart with Paper Walls,' a doleful piece which echoes with resignation and sorrow, and ends with the hollow sound of the wind...'Meandher'...proves that they can air it out as well--with an intense climax ringing with sweet feedback..."
--44.1 KHT Album Reviews
"...With music that ranges from the ferocious to the languid, Songs of the Cows is a consistently creative, thoroughly entertaining record."
"...the four-part 'Brain Wash' (is) feedback-soaked chorus, ambient meltdown, and closing harmonic deluge, evocative of a drowning man..."
--Colin Berry, Magnet
"...I see melting landscapes, and rivers of deep red flexible triangles course past my eyes...let's say you're experiencing the great green room and then you vanish. The tube doesn't swallow you, but you've found a gateway to some other place. Where you can watch galaxies dance and lights twirl..."
--David Lee Beowulf, Ink Nineteen
"...sonic booming immediacy...minimalistic cascading melodicism...guitar vituosity...stunning versatility. The Mermen, in the blink of an eye, have the power to overpower you with jagged little body blows of tremolo and feedback, while moments later they set your soul reeling in the atmospheric space capsule..."
--Tim Shwalbach, Rock Love
"...for it's new EP, the trio has gone beyond pushing the envelope. Five instrumental songs offer rock as outside as anything Sonic Youth has done...But it's the four-part finale, 'Brain Wash', a Thomas solo excursion to the Twilight Zone, on which The Mermen leave the water to surf deep space..."
"...this seven-track odyssey kicks off with one of the most ferocious instrumentals in recent memory. On 'Curve' a commanding guitar broadsides pounding surf drums while trading solos with a chortling, distorted bass...the Mermen turn surf inside out and show it glisten from all sides."
--David Beran, Gavin
"...one of the most engaging and intelligent instrumental bands around...highly articulated, melodic pieces...this 35-minute collection qualifies as an EP, but they make every one of those minutes count. A heady brew."
--Fred Goodman, Microsoft Music Central
"...The San Francisco-based trio melts together dynamic washes of sound that imply everything from noise-rock to ambient...'Curve,' ignites an immediate tension, setting the stage for a deluge of moods to follow...But the real standout here is 'Slipping the Glimpse' on which Allen Whitman's beautifully simple, melodic basslines anchor Thomas' vortex of distorted explorations and Martyn Jones' equally textural drumming..."
--Mark Follman, BAM
"...(on) Songs of the Cows, Thomas continues his endless quest to reach listeners with his soaring, surf-infused sound..."
--Tom Gogola, Guitar World
"It starts off with Whitman's bass sounding like the helicopters in Apocalypse Now, then Thomas' guitar thrangs in and Jones fires up the drum artillery. Here's the Ventures on steroids, muscular surf music churning like the ultimate wave..."
"...not only do they set themselves apart by attacking the (surf) style with an almost academic will and precision, they raise it to new previously unseen places...the Mermen are probably the only surf band that's taken on a piece like the closing 'Brain Wash' with four moody parts drenched in feedback and other acoustic atmospherics..."
--Cheryl Botchick, CMJ
"...The Mermen's 1996 instrumental CD, Songs Of The Cows, forges a turbulent surf sound on its seven tracks, led off by the powerful "Curve" and anchored by the epic, rambling 11 minute closing piece "Brain Wash". Guitarist and producer Jim Thomas double picks his way through the oceanically inspired pieces, redefining surf music in the late '90s with the help of bassist Allen Whitman and drummer Martyn Jones. Blending psychedelia and surf is what the Mermen do best throughout Songs Of The Cows, and up-tempo tracks such as "Meander" and "Curve" set the stage for some melancholy soundscapes previously known only to the creatures of the deep. Challenging stuff."
"The best guitar/mood music of the rockish genre that we have found to date. This is really good for the mind. No vocals here to tarnish any of the sometimes upbeat, sometimes lethal euphoric surfish songs on this stellar release. All the cuts are great..."
"...The Mermen are pushing guitar-driven surf instrumentals into places that even the legendary Dick Dale didn't reach. For a challenging, muscular, and sometimes spacey ride, get Songs of the Cows."
--Randy Krbechek, MetroNews
"...Thundering tribal toms...a barrage of hollow guitar chords...The rain of steel strings tips back and forth between syncopated, staccato riffs that border on the percussive, and the tell-tale twang and reverb of surf kings past...each track is something of a miniature symphony illustrative of vistas deeper than the immediately recognizable ocean imagery. Sprays of crystal-clear guitar riffs ebb and flow into an almost palpable, foamy distortion..."
--Rich Bird, The Times (IL)
"...The Mermen bring surf to the new millennium with its emotional core intact; the ebb and flow of oceanic waves are projected with fierce impressionism, using state of the art technology."
--Dave Lurssen, Shepher Express
"Had Jimi Hendrix decided to hang ten in the surf guitar scene he might have sounded like the Mermen...The sinister rolling thunder of Songs of the Cows furthers the notion that the Mermen surf at night on some pretty ominous sound waves."
--International Music Newsletter
"...Songs of the Cows asks you to get in the water and get wet on a musical tour-de-force of vibrant, foaming breakers as well as cold, swift, deep-ocean currents--a journey well worth the time."
--Good Times (Santa Cruz, CA)
"...It's the audio equivalent of Dick Dale poached in psychedelics, a strum and twang that's both invigorating and mesmerizing as it swirls in ever-deeper waters...rattles like a bare-bulb romp from an inland garage...replete with progressive rhythms and jagged guitars over a wall of drone...stoic and introspective...austere, echo-drenched...with the drama of an Ennio Morricone spaghetti Western in the reverb of the soaring guitar lines...ranges from bucolic, to hypnotic, to splayed and prickly...Songs of the Cows is soaked with the kind of inborn attraction that comes with something truly new..."
--Ted Simons, New Times (Phoenix, AZ)
"...The sound is fueled by surf's tight tremolo and wet reverb, but the album encompasses a host of musical styles--punk, prog rock, 80's metal--without loitering too long in one spot...Taut and seductive."
--Knight Ridder News Service
"...(Jim Thomas') evocative solo pieces are liquid poetry..."
"Four Stars! The Mermen once again demonstrate a masterful ability to shape engaging, often mesmerizing soundscapes...far beyond the basics of the Dick-Dale-fathered genre...Another set of aural waves that's not to be missed."
"...Dick Dale guitars meet My Bloody Valentine atmosphere for trippy instrumentals...Like Frankie and Annette overdubbed with Godard."
"...This trio creates a cloudbank of sound thicker than any 1963 Dick Dale wannabe could ever have imagined."
--Cleveland Free Times
"Songs of the Cows may be an EP, but it's the one to buy if you're buying one."
"...this inventive trio has done it again with Songs of the Cows...Thomas' sense of melody is natural and beautiful, while his intensity perfectly captures the feeling of crashing waves...Thomas rides the wave into a breathtaking display of Hendrix-ian motifs."
"...(Thomas) possesses a gift for fashioning silver-lining melodies to go with his instrumental torpedo tunes..."
--The Austin Chronicle