BOSTON HERALD (1/21/2009)
"On the surface, The Western Cutter moves at the deliberate pace of a burning incense stick, with textured layers of sound and emotions that elicit the sullen passion of Portishead. "
- Michael Marotta
Read my first interview about the new album here.
WEEKLY DIG (1/21/2009)
"The one-woman project features nothing more than a twin-neck guitar and a stack of amplifiers, but on tracks like 'Cutter,' she plays with backward tape-loops, as her voice floats in and out - as if in a dream. It's simple ... and simply delightful." - David Day
Read the whole review of the album here.
BOSTON PHOENIX (12/29/2008)
The Western Cutter was featured among anticipated local CDs to be released in 2009! Read the article.
BOSTON HERALD (9/19/2008)
"Two Marshall half-stack amplifiers, meditative lyrics and dark, textured arrangements make Cober an imposing presence among other local singer-songwriters."
- Kerry Purcell
Cober was the featured artist for the Boston Herald's Meet the Band column! Please click here to read the interview.
"This is a pale-beautiful record that catches a mood and eloquently bares the soul." - Saul, the-mag (8/2007)
Please visit the-mag to read the full review.
THE NOISE (7/2007)
"Sheila Bommakanti is Cober. She plays an Epiphone SG double neck with two Marshall amps that bookend her dramatically lit stage presentation. Her guitar parts are doubled with loops and her smooth dark vocal melodies swim in a sea of reverb. Her long black hair curves like waves of snakes - the visual balance of the music created. She expertly executes changes between the guitar necks with calm control. You could say she's a goth version of Bleu's e-band - a very soothing sensual experience." - T Max
Check out T Max's full review of the Bats in the Belfry Anniversary show here.
BOSTON HERALD (3/5/2007)
"Cober stokes the Abbey flame"
Sheila Bommakanti knows the vibe her music gives off. As the mastermind behind Cober - a "band" made of up Bommakanti's haunting vocals, a double-necked Gibson SG guitar and two Marshall half-stack amps - there are artistic pitfalls to creating music that channels dark emotions in an experimentally gothic sound. Cober's songs may be softly kissed by doom and gloom - with a hint of optimism buried here and there - but Bommakanti shines a different light.
"I've actually been told I'm rather pleasant to be around," Bommakanti said. "I guess I'll put it this way: I once heard one of the Marsalis brothers talking about the blues. He said listening to the blues didn't bring him down, it made him happy. My music is kind of like that. Not sugar-coating reality, but more like letting you know someone has been there, too."
And alongside personal experiences, "there" is also a long and winding road that stretches across Interstate 90 to her home of Seattle. It's been a journey that's seen Cober start as a solo project six years ago. Along the way, it augmented into a full band, then was stripped down to just Bommakanti, taking us to last year's "Eulogy," a collection of ballads as dark as the name suggests, with hypnotic lyrics that dance over echoing guitar delay effects.
Naturally, where there is death there is also new life, so Bommakanti's tales of despair and loss carry an underlying message of hope.
"My inspiration comes from living life, and the emotions that go with it," she said. "The songs are personal, but other people can relate to them. The things I sing about are not unique to me, necessarily." - Michael Marotta
"Cober: Glowing like an ember in the darkness." - Jim Sullivan (3/2007)
Please visit JimSullivanInk.com for the whole article.
Geoff Melton of the Music Korner writes, "With the release of Eulogy Cober has come full circle back to a solo project for Sheila Bommakanti. I recently spoke to Sheila about this evolution, her new album and recent move from Seattle to Boston and here's what she had to say on those subjects and more."
Read Sheila's whole interview with Geoff here. (1/2007)
NE PERFORMER (11/2006)
Simply stated, Cober is a one-piece bucket plunge into the depths of Sheila Bommakanti's well of a heart, bled dry by former lovers and the scorn of an unforgiving society. The music on Eulogy, the third album under the Cober name and first to use the one-piece band format from the Seattle native now living in the Boston area, is intimate and deliberate, paced by Bommakanti's double-necked SG and two Marshall half-stacks. But where each delayed guitar part glimmers, the tie that binds is Bommakanti's expressively poetic voice, at once both haunting and inviting, a gentle caress in a darkened room mapped by candlelight. Bommakanti's sort of prodigious musical work is Cober as a whole, as she's responsible for all the sounds emanating from the speakers.
When she's not hypnotic, she's demanding, but as Cober, she never loses her aim. It's a beautifully eerie piece of work, a star of Mazzy-like proportions. It's a soundtrack for the pensive, emotionally delved into after you've returned home from catching your lover in bed with another, or realizing time and age are catching up with your youthful ambitions. Sort past all the rage, sort past the despair, and you find introspection. Cober is the sound of healing, the starting over and the new beginnings. These aren't cityscapes she's traveling through; this journey is inwards.
On opening track "Words," Bommakanti sings "She didn't need you / What makes you think I do?" On "The Verge," she concludes with "I tried to be a lady / But look where that has gotten me." If it weren't for the luminous musical creations she seems to mold from anguish, it'd be easy to feel sorry for her. But in the end, through darkness there is always sound. And through sound, there's often hope. Even in its most pessimistic of hours. (Self-released)
- Michael Marotta
"Bommakanti brings Cober to Middle East"
THE PATRIOT LEDGER (August 18, 2005)
Multi-instrumental virtuoso Sheila Bommakanti doesn't seem like a sad person, but the music she makes as Cober (formerly a full band, now just her) is so mind-numbingly gloomy and painfully depressing it makes Radiohead sound like a backyard barbecue soundtrack, perfect for some light volleyball and a few 'dogs.
The idea of seeing her on a Sunday, too (this one, in fact, at the Middle East Upstairs) is something like taking Solzhenitsyn to the beach instead of that Da Vinci whatever-it-is you're still reading.
Her absorbing new album, "The Breaker," has earned her a reputation in her native Seattle as the "queen of downer rock" (and they'd know).
Make no mistake, however: the stuff is cathartic. If you're in need of a full-on emotional cleansing that's first ethereal and delicate and then loud and skull-splitting, look no further.
Cober is part of a bill that includes Talk Radio, Plumerai, Sleepshell and The Jumblies. Tickets $8 at the door, music starts at 8 p.m., show is 18 plus. - CHAD BERNDTSON
"Cober's music shares a somber brightness and an emotional honesty....Her soaring vocals telegraph both a raw anger and a lush warmth." - INTERNATIONAL EXAMINER (8/2004)
GUITAR PLAYER (12/2003)
Sheila was interviewed a second time with GP for their Unsigned Artist Alert spotlight!
THE BOSTON PHOENIX (Issue Date: September 5 - September 11, 2003)
Cober - THE BREAKER - (SELF-RELEASED) ***3 STARS***
"The second album is a bruised, bitterly elegant - and often devastating - exposition on betrayal ("Hear Lies"), emotional abandonment ("Nothing Left"), and withering regret. The surprise is how painstakingly lovely and graceful all the blood letting sounds." -Jonathan Perry
"[Bommakanti]'s a gothic renaissance woman, a multi-instrumentalist who produced and wrote all the music on Cober's two albums. But it's her voice, impassioned by her fight to confront her insecurities, that demands attention." - Melody Caraballo, THE CLEVELAND SCENE (9/3/2003)
"Solid collection of rock songs that probably kick ass live, and are fairly arresting as is." - DAGGER on Cober's The Breaker (7/2003)
"Frontwoman Sheila Bommakanti has a voice to intimidate....definitely interesting...[d]efinitely unique." - THREE IMAGINARY GIRLS (1/2003)
"Bommakanti is an artist to watch...The dark sound of Cober gets an energetic update on the bandâ€™s second album, The Breaker." - Lisa Tsering, INDIA WEST (12/2002)
The Original Sin (12/2002)
I admit that once there was a time I was in deep panic when I saw a band was from Seattle as I really can't hear the next band who thinks they are the new Nirvana, but luckily enough Cober come to save us as "The Breaker" is probably one of the strongest albums released this year....
It's described as goth-grunge by some and there is certainly a sort of coldwave atmosphere around (some people heard ghosts from Echo And The Bunnymen and The Cure in here, which is true....) but the whole music is strongly characterised by the voice of Sheila V. Bommakanti. You might be thinking that I am joking if I tell you Sheila has the same in-depth from Courtney Love, but it's the only thing I can do... The reason why I'm referring to the goddess of Seattle (even if one day it can be Sheila) is because the vocals from Sheila makes you feel like she is suffering while the music from Cober is played in an almost irritating painful slow way (think Come if you still remember). Cober are a band who play about emotions and you can hear them perfectly on every song...the concept of the cd is in fact that a person can be broken by a passion, and we know how it feels and the music by Cober only reinforces this feeling...someone said the more painful sex is, the better it is...music probably follows that
rule too. Superb album. - Didier Becu
OREGON DAILY EMERALD (11/14/2002)
Cober's music is all about angst. But this is no annoying whining; it's pure addictive agony draped in black velvet. The Seattle band's sophomore album, The Breaker, more than parallels its first endeavor, Crashpilot. Listening to The Breaker is like eating expensive chocolate cake, except you'll be crying all over it. The ingredients are expertly interwoven -- Mazzy Star-esque vocals providing the icing to smooth, rich layers of guitars, drums and harpsichord.
One of the band's other stand-out features is that frontwoman Sheila V. Bommakanti does much of the behind-the-scenes work herself. The vocalist and multi-talented instrumentalist wrote all the words and music for both Crashpilot and The Breaker. For The Breaker, she also co-produced the album with Steve Carter and mixed and mastered the music with Carter and Paul Speer.
When Bommakanti produced Crashpilot with Speer, she was the entire band -- guitars, vocals, bass and mandolin -- with Steve Hill and Neal Speer contributing drum performances to some of the tracks. For The Breaker, she wisely added guitarist Lelani LaGuardia. Drummer Zach Barnhart also contributed to this album, and Hill returned to lend his expertise on the track "Red Granite."
Cober may be relatively obscure as of now, but the band's raw talent provides plenty of potential. It's refreshing to hear interesting instruments like the mandolin and harpsichord added to the mix, and it makes the music better knowing you're listening to a glistening secret few people have been lucky enough to discover.
If all this weren't enough, the album's deep, intriguing lyrics also make it the perfect break-up soundtrack. Songs from The Breaker are guaranteed to satisfy even the strongest post-split craving for some indulgently dismal sounds -- and Cober is adept at pouring salt on the wounds. For example, the track "Hear Lies" laments, "I am made a fool of in conversations had / Thought I was talking to you, but I'm talking to myself / I may try and act out the parts that you defend / I am not good at this, but its fun to pretend."
Ahh... let the wallowing begin. - Jacquelyn Lewis, Pulse Editor
The review for this album comes a little late -- it came out in 2000, for God's sake -- but when I first read about this band on another website, I had to check it out.
I'm glad I did.
Cober encapsulates everything that's good about dark, brooding music on its debut full length, Crashpilot. The sound -- exemplified by Sheila Bommakanti's velvety croon and twinkling minor-key guitar choruses -- can easily be compared to bands like Hole, L7 and The Cure. And it has, by more than one lazy music journalist in the past.
But to limit oneself solely to those three bands would be crippling, at best. Sure, Bommakanti (the brainchild and primary instrumentalist behind Cober) comes off as a sort of Courtney Love-hound at times (yes, sometimes more than others). But her voice carries a passion with it that the former Hole front-lady sometimes lacked. When Love screamed, she sounded pissed. When Bommakanti screams, she sounds not only pissed, but hurt, tortured and almost irreparably scarred, to boot. That's important stuff on a rock record: the ability to emote and be a believable cat at the same time. Coupled with Bommakanti's spooky guitars, it's not only believable, it's spectral.
And those guitars: again, sure the arpeggios sparkle like lights in a Disneyland theme ride at night, bringing a decidedly Cure-like feel to the proceedings. Sure, the thump of the minor-key bass brings to mind bands such as Depeche Mode and New Order (albeit without the techno twist). But Bommakanti seems to take an almost militaristic approach to her talent with an effects pedal: every track showcases a new, intriguing sound to be explored and lost in. Like the plot of a Hans Christian Anderson children's story, they supply the subversive thread that the rest of the song seems to follow. Even when she's supplying simple, feedback-drenched bends, she tweaks them like she means it. The result is seamless. It's not in your face. It's just there. Where it's supposed to be.
"After Dark," for example, begins with a Disintegration-era Cure bass riff before a distorted guitar screams in from the distance, wailing and crying like a jilted banshee. "Nightlight," on the other hand, begins with a chiming arpeggiated riff, a lonely ship's bell cutting into a fog-soaked night. And album opener "Call It What It Is..." is a waltz-like number centered around a yearning, delayed guitar riff, evoking the mood of the struggle of the song.
Listening to the album is like getting caught in a pool of molasses. The beats are slow and heavy as all Hell, and the mood is similar to the one you feel after -- and this is a very hackneyed line here -- the one after your best lover's broken up with you. Actually, it's the one you feel a week after, when the hurt takes on a tinge of purple, melancholic hope. Only a little, though. And I mean a smidgeon.
The only real departure from the apocalyptic beats and drudging bass lines is in the upbeat New Wave of "Handprints," but even then the melancholy remains. It's like Bommakanti can't get loss out of her head, and it's driving her interminably and utterly demented. But anyone who's that disturbed couldn't possibly make an album of this breadth and beauty. Could they? - Matthew Chabe
The music of Cober--a melodic, goth-influenced band hailing from Seattle--leads one to speculate whether Hole would still be a viable force in rock had Kurt Cobain lived to ghost write his wife's material. As distasteful as it is to mention Courtney Love in reference to any artist with genuine talent, Cober's astoundingly gifted singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Sheila Bommakanti has crafted a nearly flawless debut, Crashpilot, sure to remind many of Live Through This-era Hole. With this said, there's so much more going on here. "After Dark," a tale of unrequited love and its subsequent surrender (sample lyric: "I am a victim to myself") shares the cathartic quality of anything found on The Cure's two indispensable '80s albums Seventeen Seconds and Faith. Likewise, a song like "Nightlight" recalls the atmospheric guitar work of Echo and the Bunnymen and early-'80s U2. Odd chord progressions and Bommakanti's incomparably expressive vocals alternating between a seductive whisper, a haunting wail and shades in between nudge the listener further into Crashpilot's disquieting dreamworld in a quietly soul-wrenching way. Just as the languid "Call it What it is" slowly builds in intensity but never quite reaches the point of release, this album leaves its hooks in you beyond repeated spins. - Gail Worley
THE STRANGER (7/11/2002)
(Graceland) At first glance, the diminutive Sheila V. Bommakanti seems like an unlikely frontwoman, but then she opens her mouth, and this incredible husky voice pours out, seemingly out of nowhere. Bommakanti's vocals are at the forefront of Cober's material, which lurks in a dark space somewhere between the Cure and early R.E.M. She whispers, breathes, belts, and howls, all of it perfectly timed and on-key. The best part, though, is that you can enjoy Cober's songs on multiple levels. Whether you're treating your ears to Bommakanti's melodic guitar work or appreciating the deeper meanings of her lyrics, you needn't give up one form of enjoyment in favor of the other. The music's moody but evocative, and it doesn't succumb to a sense of self-importance, which tends to plague this particular subgenre. After releasing Crashpilot in 2000, Bommakanti is currently recording a second record, Breaker, with new bandmate Lelani LaGuardia. - Genevieve Williams
Cober, which at the time of this release consisted solely of Sheila Bommakanti, sounds like a fantasy mixture of various emotionally-troubled artists. There's a heavy dose of The Cure (most notably on the title track), a bit of Garbage (note the vocal effects on "Handprints") and a slew of Hole-esque moments. The main distinction between Bommakanti and Courtney Love is that when Love screams out her lyrics, she's likely to make you cringe, but Bommakanti somehow stays consistently in key, even when she's screaming at the top of her lungs. It's not an easy thing to do; I tried in the car -- it was awful. Cober may just have invented the artfully pretty wail.
There are also notes of the darker, more powerful moments produced by Elysian Fields. "After Dark" sounds very much like a song that would fit nicely on Bleed Your Cedar, were Elysian Fields to take things up a notch.
The album's dark, near gothic tone is in perfect sync with the lyrics -- which, sometimes cryptically, speak of fear, doubt, forgiveness, deception and betrayal. On "Quicksand", Bommakanti sings, "And I see all who loathe / love me / I'm what you hoped I'd never be." She's not a happy-go-lucky type of gal (at least not in the world of making music), but you should be happy to get your hands on Crashpilot. Cober claims to sound unlike most current music, and while there are certain, obvious influences, they're correct in labeling themselves this way. If this album had come out in 1992, there would probably have been a slew of similar artists, but they've all either disappeared or moved on to a new sound. Bommakanti is unique in that not only did she stay true to the sort of music she was inspired to create, but much to our benefit, she perfected it and took it farther than many of her better-known predecessors. - Amy Leach
THE STRANGER (3/21/2002)
(Central Saloon) Sheila Bommakanti is not a large person. Kind of small, really. But she brings a brimming, compelling talent to bear as the leader of Cober, a local rock band you need to know about. Bommakanti, an accomplished guitarist, songwriter, and arranger who sings out the top of her head, recombines several unlikely musical strands into an unprecedented amalgam: the loping, effects-laden dread of such circa-1981 Brit postpunks as the Comsat Angels and the Cure of "A Forest"; the single-minded power and desolate beauty of "Fade to Black"-era Metallica; and the whisper-to-wail vocal palette that made the early Kat Bjelland (of Babes in Toyland, lest we forget) so riveting. Cober's album Crashpilot contains eight addictive songs and a lovely nine-minute closing instrumental (hidden at track 92, in case you get confused!). I'd rank it as the best Northwest debut since the eponymous Jessamine and Sleater-Kinney albums of 1995, if not the inaugural releases of Built to Spill and Heavens to Betsy (both 1993), all four of which it recalls in its promise and aesthetic clarity. In person Cober is fiercer, heavier, and funnier than on the CD (not even a bit goth, as it happens), so now's the time t'get with it! - Tom Kipp
"Cober's debut CD, Crashpilot, is a beautifully complex mix of alternative rock sounds....her songs speak of lies, ambiguity, and the search for life's purposes, and her startlingly deep, dark voice bounces off the careening chords on her guitar..." - Lisa Tsering, INDIA WEST (3/8/2002)
"The title track [Crashpilot] drips along like maple syrup, and Sheila Bommakanti's sleepy, seductive voice and slow-motion guitar playing only thicken the molasses." - Lewis Taylor, THE REGISTER-GUARD (1/25/2002)
"Cober, gothish Seattle band, is fronted by singer guitarist Sheila Bommakanti who displays a great voice, full bodied and with presence to spare on the debut album, Crashpilot." - Stan Hall, THE OREGONIAN (1/18/2002)
"Smashing debut makes you long to hear from Cober again and again." - Tom Scanlon, THE SEATTLE TIMES (1/11/2002)
Read the full article here.
GOTHIC VIXEN (2001)
Crashpilot is 8 tracks of beautifully melodic modern rock. Front women Sheila lets passionate and emotional vocals spill from her mouth and straight into the listeners heart. When I first heard COBER they reminded me of Radiohead with female vocals. Highly intoxicating and soul grabbing music. I am quite honestly at a loss for words accurate enough to describe just how blatantly incredible this band is. Please take a visit over to their website to experience COBER for yourself.
- Jessica Ocasio
JAM MAGAZINE (7/2001)
What do you get if you take Mazzy Star mixed with some Courtney Love, a little Fiona Apple, and a pinch of Veruca Salt? The result is Crashpilot by Seattle-ite Sheila Bommakanti and her band, Cober.
This self-released, 8-track CD is an incredible work of artistry--layering warm, rich guitar riffs, solid percussion, and sultry yet angry vocals that enter the ear and possess the listener's mind. Crashpilot borders somewhere between rock, goth and the newly ultra-popular female singer/songwriter style of music. The mixture works for Cober, and works well. Sheila is definitely a talented writer and performer. Basically a one-woman band on the CD, Sheila gets credited for guitars, vocals, bass and mandolin. Other artists on the album include Steve Hill and Neal Speer on percussion tracks.
Cober's press kit, included with the CD, suggested some tracks to listen to, helping me save my precious time. I say, "Thanks for the help, but I think I'll try to tackle the whole disc in one listen." Now, that was three days ago--and I haven't let it stop playing since. Though I have to agree that their song picks, "Winnebago," "Quicksand," and the title track, "Crashpilot," are all quite good. I personally picked a few I'd add to that list.
My first would be track two, "After Dark." This song is very moody and quite lyrically intense. My second recommendation would be the third song, "The Milky Way," which I felt was the most reminiscent of the Courtney Love/Hole style of vocals.
If I were creating a press pack for Cober, I don't think I'd single out just a few of the songs for review. I'd be proud to state that the reviewer should listen to the whole album--because it is well worth every minute of their listening time. Honestly, I couldn't get enough of this CD. For days I ate to it, drove with it, and even fell asleep by it. Crashpilot is just that good! Actually, I think I'm in love. - Kyle Mangino
Crashpilot is a dark and forceful record that features Sheila V. Bommakanti performing all of the musical duties (vocals, guitar, bass, mandolin) with the exception of drums. Bommakanti's guitar playing brings to mind The Cure (especially the songs "Nightlight" and "Crashpilot") with a lethargic pace that lends cause to her equally sluggish vocals which come out with a seductive haze, as though she is emerging from a sedative / alcohol-induced sleep. Peaking only occasionally with ferocity, Bommakanti's vocals are punctuated by muted moans, with enunciation reminiscent of Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star) and Chan Marshall (Cat Power). The music of Cober is quite painful â€” but in a good way â€” almost like a horrible workout that leaves you sore and grouchy, but eventually builds wonderful, gorgeous muscles. - Nicole Seredszun
"Melodic, edgy, and passionate--everything you want from a modern-guitar album. Bravo!" - Michael Molenda, Editor-In-Chief, GUITAR PLAYER (3/2001) Crashpilot was the featured album in Guitar Player for their Studio Log column. In the interview, Sheila discusses the musical concept for the song, "After Dark," along with a layout of the music gear used to record it.
GETFANCY! MAGAZINE (2/2001)
My Bloody Valentine meets Sonic Youth with a touch of Low, a sliver of early Veruca Salt, a bit of Babes in Toyland and a scream or two in the name of Courtney Love with a whole lot of early Cure in Cober (aka Sheila V. Bommakanti) debut Crashpilot. A lesson in patience, Crashpilot is an 8 track collection of mid-tempo, electric-guitar and drum driven tunes where Sheila's syrupy but strong vocals make for a series of crescendos and crashing always accented by a strong, steady beat that in it's repetition, drills into you like a never-ending dream....Thick as molasses and rich in dreamy downers Crashpilot is a great retrospective thumbs up to some of the great core alternative bands of the 80's with Sheila doing the job of an entire crew. Lose yourself in the seductive voice of Cober while drifting off in the repetitions of the early Cure meets Sonic Youth guitars of this indie wonder. College radio and modern rock stations should be sharing "Handprints" while I drift away in the title track "Crashpilot" & "Winnebago." "Quicksand," the spooky finale only left me raging for more and we'll be sure to catch Cober playing here in her hometown of Seattle. - Melyssa Harmon