By Steve B.
2 min read
Cowboy Music comes right out of the gate with fast-paced, driving rock, and it doesn’t let up. Two guitars (Tim and Zac), drums (Patrick), and bass (Zach) are extremely tight as they go from one hard-hitting punk/hardcore riff to another. Each riff could be its own song, but they move from one to another in quick succession. And with songs as short as 55 seconds and little to no break between songs, Cowboy Music can be relentless.
The highlight of the album for me is Becca’s vocals. Her voice is clear and direct. The lyrics tell a haunting tale, and Becca brings the story to life with an impressive range of tone and inflection. Stabs, growls, questions, objections, derision, hate, indifference—she hits them all.
On the tenth track, “Pink Rose,” the album drops into a dirge. The song starts with a slow, dissonant guitar riff that builds in speed and intensity, as do the vocals. The song ends by devolving into chaos, before immediately launching into the final track, “Worthless Cheaters.”
Cowboy Music marks the rebirth of the band Cerce. They formed in 2011 as a pop band (hard to believe) when they were freshmen in college, but they reformed after summer break focused instead on punk with hardcore influences. The band describes those early days: “We were a bunch of teenage weirdo nerds (still are, just not teenagers) and just wanted to make music that we all enjoyed making for ourselves, which is still the general mission of the band today.”
Those first few years marked an intense period for the band—they were writing, recording, and touring at every opportunity. The creative output from that time (recorded in multiple studios over 13 months) was later collected into a single remastered album. But in 2013, the band broke up. As they describe it, “Too much too soon…. We were young and in college and just pushing it way too hard [and] everything boiled over.”
Cerce reunited in 2018 for a handful of shows, and that sparked the idea that would become Cowboy Music. “[W]e enjoyed playing music together again so much that after about a year of sitting on the idea, we all respectively started working on material for a new record with the intention of it being fun. If we weren’t having fun or anything felt ‘forced,’ we weren’t going to continue pursuing it.”
The guitars and drums were recorded right before the lockdown in March 2020, and the vocals and bass were recorded during the pandemic, all at God City Studio in Salem, Massachusetts. The band “wanted to make a new album for the sake of having a good time with it,” and that passion comes through.
*Originally published in-print in Boston Compass Newspaper #140 November 2021