Gene O’s New Track “COOL”

I love how Gene O’s new track “COOL” burns with old-school vibe and crackles with modern songwriting and production values. Gene O didn’t fire up a few old tube amplifiers, turn on some lava lamps, and smoke a blunt before laying down the neo R&B soul and swagger vying for listeners’ attention alongside the song’s polyrhythmic heat. He’s written and cut a contemporary number with this single that recalls older songcraft without ever planting its flag deep in the recesses of the past. It’s a musical highwire act and Gene O. pulls it off with aplomb few of his contemporaries can readily equal.

I felt carried away by the memorable groove Gene O creates. From the beginning. There’s a low-key rhythmic and melodic confidence burning off each second of the song without ever sounding too full of itself. Each component of the song owns its place in the mix but Gene weaves those separate elements into a colorful and coherent whole. There’s never any sense of “COOL” being assembled piecemeal.

It blends a physical and percussion-driven performance with the R&B affectations of horns. The light mashup of colliding styles that I hear never sounds jarring or unmusical, however, but instead achieves an early union that sustains listeners’ interest for the duration of the song. It’s a track without lengthy instrumental breaks of any sort, so anyone seeking out the virtuoso trip that so many others pursue with their material will be disappointed. Gene O’s allegiance is, first and foremost, to the song.

The production ensures that each instrumental part occupies a clean and unfettered space. It has a warm sound that invites listeners into its world and opens the door to the possibility of listening to the song multiple times. It isn’t an one and done song. Gene O has pop sensibilities galore and they are on full display for listeners during this song, but there’s an underlying foundation for the track that tethers it to posterity. It isn’t disposable pop fluff.

It’s an outgrowth of the years he has logged as lead singer/front man for San Francisco units such as The Make and Addiction. He’s revisited the former in recent history as Gene O recently helped supervise the collection and release of the band’s long-ago studio work as a release entitled The Make Up Sessions. It’s one of many things packed into a busy 2022 for Gene O and there’s every reason to believe next year will be just as hectic.

This is either his peak or near it. Hearing Gene O right now is hearing the sound of a musical artist either at or nearing the peak of their respective powers and it’s fortunate for listeners that this may last for years to come. Conversely, it may end tomorrow. Catch Gene O’s act while you can, however, and you’ll hear one of the best singer/songwriters’s on the indie scene today and his new single “COOL” makes a strong claim for that title. Let’s hope he doesn’t waste much time following it up with more. 

Nicole Killian

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Nicole loves to go cross country skiing, swimming, reading and critiquing books, listening and critiquing music, some culinary arts, pottery, spending time with my daughter, cheesy horror films.

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