With so many bands in Austin, standing out is no easy feat. However, after starting as a solo venture for front woman Sabrina Ellis, it wasn’t long before the project became the nine-piece outfit Sweet Spirit. The band’s mix of indie rock, doo wop, disco, country, garage rock and punk fronted by Ellis’ wild vocal stylings created a unique sound that quickly garnered them attention around town. They even caught the attention of Spoon’s Britt Daniel. After recording a 7” with Britt Daniel earlier in the year, Sweet Spirit returned to the studio with producer Mike McCarthy to record their first full-length LP Cokomo.
The album starts strong right out of the gate with garage rocker “Take Me To A Party” and its lyrics, “I’ve got a broken heart, so take me to a party” stacked upon itself, and is a prime candidate for singing along at the top of your lungs.
The first single for the album, “Baby When I Close My Eyes”, takes a disco type drum beat and layers on unique synth sounds with an indie rock guitar groove. Add in Ellis’ soaring vocals and you have a catchy tune that will have people ready to get up and dance.
Part of the nine-piece lineup includes a two person horn section. Tracks like “Rebel Rebel” and “Someone Like You” bring more of a doo wop sound to the table and this is where the horns are allowed to shine and carry more of the music. In both of these tunes Ellis’ writing partner Andrew Cashen takes some of the lead vocals and adds an additional layer of complexity to the songs.
Starting with the lyrics “If you wanna/we can have a place in Mexico/smoke marijuana/never tell a single soul where we go”, the track “If You Wanna” is a straight ahead rock song that is primed to be the next single off the album.
Taken as whole, Cokomo is a fantastic album that brings you on a journey all over the musical map. Whether it’s a pop song, doo wop, disco, or punk, Ellis’ passionate vocals shine on every song. Impressively for such a large band, you never feel like any instrument is allowed to drown out the others. Ellis’ and Cashen’s songwriting chemistry backed by a troop of excellent musicians and singers, all of whom have come together to create an album that is bound to be one of the most memorable of the year.