The trouble that a lot of diehard rock n’ roll fans have with the genre these days has nothing to do with the modern generation abandoning the ideals of their ancestors and everything to do with a lack of commitment when it comes to making a robust rock song – but that’s not a problem for Rhett May. In his new single “Cocktails and Cannabis,” the Australian singer and songwriter discharges venomous verses and haunting harmonies alongside a mischievous bass and gargantuan guitar riffing that together form a boldly textured nucleus that will keep listeners coming back to this track for a powerhouse pick-me-up time and time again.
There’s lots of sonic vitality in this song beneath the lumbering dirge of the drums, and we don’t have to look particularly hard to find it. The production quality here is top of the line, and it allows us to really appreciate every element within the instrumentation without confusing the origin point of one strand of melody with another. Rhett May doesn’t want to waste our time with a lot of muddied harmonics in this track; he gets right down to business and starts lashing us with lusty riffs right from the jump.
“Cocktails and Cannabis” has a multilayered master mix that meticulously arranges the different parts in the song into a fluid framework instead of smashing them together in an attempt to impress us with the song’s gravity-altering strength. You don’t have to be an expert in recording to understand just how lofty a concept it is, but in the effortless way that Rhett May executes it here, it doesn’t seem as intimidatingly difficult as it would be for the rest of us. I can’t think of another artist in his scene going to these sort of sophisticated lengths in the studio, but to be fair, I’ve always known this cat to be one of a kind.
A metallic undertow in the chorus sucks us asunder with the blustery bassline, but I wouldn’t call the effect nearly as predictable as what I’ve heard in similarly designed songs from heavy metal groups. May has a lot more in common creatively with Black Sabbath than he does Mastodon, but there’s still a resonance in his guitar tones that makes his music just as accessible to contemporary metal fans as it is to rock aficionados both in the underground as well as in the mainstream.
There aren’t many rockers left like Rhett May, but with that said, he’s doing everything in his power to keep the heart and soul of the genre as alive with passion as he possibly can in “Cocktails and Cannabis,” and personally I think that the younger generation of upstart rock musicians could stand to learn a lot from his approach to making this single. His patient attitude is indeed from another era, but his erudite sensibilities as a songwriter are something that is timeless, and frankly, awkwardly missing from the pop music spectrum right now. The bottom line? If you like pure rock n’ roll, you need to get yourself a copy of this single as soon as possible.