Cold Satellite is a "concept album" populated with songs co-written by Jeffrey Foucault and Lisa Olstein. Longtime friends, they began to collaborate in 2007 when Olstein sent Foucault a bunch of unpublished poems plus snippets of poems that she hadn't finished. Foucault sat down with his guitar and began to put these "lyrics" to music. The results are Cold Satellite.
The opening song, "The Deserter's Information Center," sets the mood for the album. It begins with a funereally slow solo acoustic guitar, a snare drum, and solo vocals. As the song progresses David Goodrich's electric guitar and Alex McCollough's pedal steel elevate the energy level from just this side of dead to rock anthem powerful. The title cut, "Cold Satellite," is a straight rocker ala John Cougar what's-his-name with a dash of Steve Earl-ish funk, along with that other F word thrown in to keep it off NPR.
Olstein's lyrics are both beautiful and often chilling. They contribute to the dangerous aura of the music — no June, moon, spoon, stuff here. Olstein's lyrics remind me of some of Jim Carroll's best stuff — dark, full of anarchic Bacchanalian energy waiting to bust out.
Foucault's arrangements modulate from acoustic minimalism to hard rock to electronique weirdness on a moment's notice. This almost guarantees that some part of a tune might be a bit "much." But I find his eclecticism endearing because he's willing to go to such measures to keep a song interesting. And interesting songs they are; every tune on Cold Satellite packs an emotional and musical punch. Which makes it a mighty powerful piece of work, I'd say.