I am not a man of mystery. If you’ve spent more than 3 minutes in my company, you’ll immediately know that I’m a dentist, I love to cook, and I am a Cobra Starship groupie. Not a hardcore crazy person who follows them to every single concert or knows where they live or anything, but definitely fan enough to have met them, listen to their music daily, have at least one to ten of their songs in any given playlist on my iTunes, and sing “Good Girls Go Bad” in the shower. Ok fine so maybe I am hardcore. They are the reason I joined Twitter, the reason I met Jordan Galland, and led to me being introduced to Bryce Gruber, Renee Schmidt, & Gary Randall and then developing this blog. Good things happen to me because of this band. The Cobra’s released their fourth album this summer, “Night Shades,” recognizable for the summer hit, “You Make Me Feel…” featuring Sabi.
(Me + Gabe Saporta)
Each of their songs tell a story within the lyrics of the SynthPopRock beats. You listen to their music not just to fist pump and dance, but to hear a worthy tale about love found, love lost, or just the crazy shenanigans involved with partying and just plain being awesome. Their past CD’s include “While the City Sleeps, We Rule the Streets,” “Viva La Cobra,” and “Hot Mess.” Most people actually don’t know that the lead singer, Gabe Saporta, used to lead another band called “Midtown” before moving on to form CSS. The rest of the group is comprised of Ryland Blackinton, Nate Novarro, Alex Suarez, and Victoria Asher. Also, Victoria if you read this, thanks for the autographed pic.
(Victoria Asher + Me)
To create this formidable combination of deep emotion and excellent party rock, the group worked closely with amazing talent when writing the music and performing it; Kara DioGuardi and Ryan Tedder, Sabi, Mac Miller, Jump into the Gospel, and the Plasticines all helped make this album awesome. It even sounds like the progression of a love story, with its ups and downs, beginning with love at first sight in “You Belong to Me” and culminating in potential depression with “Shwick.” I think Night Shades aren’t just meant to be worn when you wanna look cool; they may be to hide the puffy eyes after nights of crying alone in bed with nothing but a super firm pillow as a cuddle buddy. :/
“Nightshades” opens with ‘You belong to me,’ a tale about rekindling a waning love. Then it progresses to ‘You Make Me Feel…’ where two people find love after a long and fruitless search. Keep an eye out for Robin Williams in the video!
Next, “#1Nite,” my personal favorite and co-written by Ryan Tedder of One Republic, tells the story of a night out at the club where every one is having a great time and not worrying about the next day or the rest of their lives, living in the moment. Fun, up beat, and cool, this song really will make you start dancing no matter where you are.
“Your daddy always said you should stay away from a ‘Fool Like Me’” is the opening line of their fourth song on the CD, featuring the Plasticines. This tells the story of the bad boy that your parents wouldn’t approve of, and all the mistakes he’s made, but despite all odds and everyone telling her to stay away, they find love together. This is succeeded by “Anything for Love,” telling the tale of a man who wants to give up on love after heartache but knows the right thing to do is to have faith, and love will come when it’s meant to.
“Middle Finger” featuring Mac Miller has only one word that I know of to describe it, in Russian. That word is “Pohuy” which would translate roughly to “I don’t give a f**k.” The relaxing beat combined with the lyrics just give it that feel of “f**k it, I’m doing what I want and nothing else matters.” Next, “Don’t Blame the World, It’s the DJ’s Fault” instructs its listeners to just chill out, start dancing and leave their worries behind. This is also the song they released on the internet as a sneak peek of what their album would be like, with a YouTube video of crazy cannibalistic Eggplants. Their fans were asked to guess the name of the album based on that video, and in my omnipotence (ok fine I did research on the eggplant) I knew that the eggplant comes from a family of plants called Nightshade. I guessed it, and didn’t receive the promised phone call from their lead singer, but watevs. I learned not to expect those calls after I was promised that Gabe would be my patient after I met him. Yea, that didn’t happen. If you ever read this, Gabe, and want to apologize, I’ll take 2 backstage tickets to a concert as my minimum form of acceptance. OK fine a phone call will do it too.
Eighth on the CD is “F**ked in Love,” the account of a putz who pushed his girl away to the point where she left, and now he’s stuck with the depression and regret. “Disaster Boy” FINALLY features the beautiful voice of the stunningly gorgeous Victoria Asher, the band’s Keytarist (its kind of a hybrid between a piano and a guitar, and looks like an accordion? yea that seems accurate). It sounds almost like a Blondie song, and may even be a sequel to “F**ked in Love.” In this story, the guy runs back to his girl but she doesn’t want to take him back, but they know they can’t live without each other and keep trying to have faith in the relationship. Kinda sounds like a 90210 episode… on which, BTW, the Cobra’s will be appearing this season so if you don’t watch it yet, you should start.
Finally, “Shwick” (which, according to urban dictionary, is a combo of the words “sweet” and “sick”) is a song about love itself and whether or not its real. Should he believe in love or is it “just a lie”? The title actually fits really well because love can be both sweet, and sick (in the I’m-feeling-kinda-sick-cuz-this-is-painful kinda way).
Music is a dynamic and ever changing entity, always evolving into better and newer melodies and lyrics. To all you Long Island lolita’s that say they “want the old Cobra’s” and can’t appreciate the diligence, emotion, and pure talent that went into the creation of this album, I say unto you that you can stay static and keep “Viva la Cobra” on replay. Any true artist draws inspiration from their own lives and incorporates it into his or her work. This album shows us a side of the Cobra’s we haven’t seen before; they haven’t “changed;” rather, they are multifaceted. As the good book says, “I’ve just got one side to show you all, my ass is awesome so smile when you’re kissing it.” Maybe you’re just not in on the joke. To every one else who appreciates the evolution of good music into great music, go out and buy yourself some Night Shades.
I listen to music for the same reason I would read novels or poetry. I look for the story told behind each song, not just the beat to dance to. Maybe its because I can’t dance. Maybe its because I’m a dentist. Who knows. All I do know is that each of their songs tells a great story, and often inspires my cooking. Because they made that ridiculous cannibalistic eggplant video, I’ve developed an eggplant recipe thats healthy and flavorful for the band members to try out. And its fully vegetarian so Gabe doesn’t have to risk losing PETA’s sexiest vegetarian award. Its comforting, delectable, and best of all, its koshericious.
Night Shades – Quinoa Stuffed Eggplant
2 medium eggplants, halved lengthwise, tips removed
1.5 cups raw quinoa, rinsed
1 jalepeno pepper, lightly charred on an open flame or broiler
2 red bell peppers, charred on an open flame (or broiler) and peeled
1 small red onion
2 medium cloves garlic
1 tsp paprika
4 oz baby spinach
2 cups low sodium vegetable stock
1/4 cup dry cranberries
1/4 cup sliced almonds or chopped pistachios
1 cup water
1 cup fresh italian parsley
2 plum tomatoes
1 lemon, zested, and juiced
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with foil, and place the halved eggplants on it. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, and season well with salt and pepper. Roast with cut side up for 30 min, then rotate pan, and flip the eggplants over so some of the liquid can drain out better, for another 30 min.
Heat a saucepan on medium and add some EVOO, about 2-3 tbsp. Chop the onion and garlic, and add to the pan. Cut the jalepeno in half, remove seeds and veins, and chop finely. Add 1/2 the jalepeno to the onions and garlic, and set the other half aside for the topping. Season with salt, pepper, and paprika.
Saute until these veggies begin to brown, about 3-5 minutes. Add the quinoa, stir, and fry to toast the quinoa, about 2 minutes. Add the water and vegetable stock, and some more salt and pepper. Cover and let cook for about 15 minutes until the quinoa absorbs the water.
In the meantime, peel the charred peppers and chop them up. Once the quinoa cooks, add the peppers, cranberries, almonds, spinach, and the juice of 1/2 the lemon and stir to combine. Season to taste.
Once the Eggplants are roasted, remove them from the oven and flip back to have the cut side facing up. Spread the meat of the eggplant apart creating a pocket, and divide the quinoa mixture between each half of eggplant. Sprinkle with a few extra almonds, and return to the oven to bake for 15 minutes.
Finely chop the parsley and place in a bowl. Grate the garlic and tomato into it, and add the lemon zest. Mix to combine.
Take the eggplants out of the oven and spoon the parsley “gremolata” over the eggplant. Enjoy!