Amy Cooper
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Amy Cooper

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Amy Cooper is one hell of a songwriter. Lean, mean, and as tight as they come, her songs are personal narratives that often unfold from a single, seemingly simple line, as in “You Can’t Have it All”, when she sings, sweetly, yet matter-of-factly, “You are the reason that I left my other lover”. Cooper finds the guts of her stories in these lines, fleshing them out with the insight of a young woman who has studied her mirror image long enough to know where the laugh lines will appear. The efficiency of her verse contrasts with the flexibility of her voice, which she adjusts like a finely tuned instrument to match the story she’s telling. She’s got a luscious upper range ("Tonight We Fly"); she’s edgy, almost Joan Jett-like, but with a vulnerable lilt at all the right intervals ("Back Together"); and she’s a bad-ass who coolly sports the kind of detachment that underscores, rather than hides, the hurt beneath.
But it’s her willingness to internalize the life lessons, to smack her own forehead in I-should-have-known-better fashion, that distinguishes her style and lends credibility to what-were-you-thinking lines like, “I thought everything would be finalized / by the time I was 25”. Dissonant vocal layering emotes like shattered glass, giving us that familiar “brokenhearted” feel, but without the clichés. On Mirrors, Ms. Cooper creates her sound in a sort of reverse White Stripes lineup: Frank Lenz’s bass and energetic drumming keeping time with Cooper’s own expert guitar that wows us, from the rumbling chords of “Come Alive” and “Undertow” (a water-themed song of epiphany along the lines of Ani Difranco’s “Swim") to her smart, subdued handiwork in “Strange”. At six and a half songs (final track “25” only lasts about a minute), the EP gets in good with your ears and then makes you sad to see it end. [PopShop, Amazon, Amazon UK]
http://www.popmatters.com/pm/music/shorttakes/
- popmatters.com


Paul Liberatore: Amy Cooper gets raw and real
Paul Liberatore
Article Launched: 06/14/2007 04:35:55 PM PDT

After listening to Amy Cooper's new CD, "Mirrors," a little indie rock gem in the rough that reminds me of Joan Jett and the young Patti Smith, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that this promising 26-year-old singer/songwriter is from Marin County.

"Marin is a big part of our lives," Amy says, telling me she got her musicality and sense of rhythm from tap dance lessons at Happy Feet in Mill Valley.

"Having rhythm is the main thing about music, and I had that ingrained in my body from a young age."

When I told her she reminded me of Patti Smith, she gushed, "I love Patti Smith. I was exposed to her in New York. I was really inspired by her poetry and her whole style. I love it."

She seems to be paying her respects to Smith's stark style - I'm thinking of the black-and-white cover photo by Robert Mapplethorpe on the 1975 album "Horses." On the cover of "Mirrors," Cooper appears in a similarly sparse black-and-white photo, her hair in a short boyish cut, wearing black pants and a black bra.

In New York Cooper's taste in music was shaped by musician Arto Lindsay and the bands Blonde Redhead and the Doves.

Along with other young singer/songwriters such as Juliana Hatfield, Martha Wainwright and Tracy Bonham, she cut her teeth performing at the punk mecca CBGB, the Village Underground and at Pianos, her favorite club.

She moved back to the Bay Area to record her debut album, "Water/Fire," with indie-rock pioneers John Vanderslice and Scott Solter. She released it on her own two years ago, drawing comparisons to an earlier alt-rock diva with a smoky, throaty voice like hers.

Cooper's lyrics on the seven songs on "Mirrors" are smart and insightful. Just when you think she'll fall back on a cliche, she doesn't. She has a rare talent for melody, combining punk and pop and hard rock influences.

Her guitar playing is rudimentary and rhythmic, hard driving and powerful, like a distaff Johnny Ramone. On "Mirrors," recorded in a beachside studio in Southern California and released on independent Retone Records, Cooper plays all the guitar parts and is accompanied only by indie rock musician Frank Lenz on drums and bass.

"This record is a response to the last one, which was a big production with a lot of people playing on it," she says. "For this newest one, I was excited to do more raw things with a drummer and I recording almost all the tracks live. I wanted to take a step back from the first record."

Cooper has the ability to write songs that are confessional and personal without being whiny or self-conscious.

The seven songs on "Mirrors," which she says "are like a mark of time," were written when she had just broken up with a boyfriend and was getting used to being alone, discovering that it wasn't such a bad place to be.

"I saw it as an opportunity to be self-reflective, to experience the individual place I was in," she explains. "I was feeling independent, and I was really happy about it."

I asked her how growing up in Marin has affected her songwriting, and after a pause, she gave me one of the most thoughtful answers I've ever heard about this county.

"There's a purity to Marin that's unlike any other place I've been," she says. "Marin's natural beauty taught me how to compare with metaphors, using the water, the trees, the ocean, the way everything in nature is always changing.

"In Marin, it was ingrained in me to stay pure to what I'm doing. That's helped me a lot in my music career. The music business can be pretty rough, but I've found that you have to take your time and stay true to yourself. From Marin I learned to stay pure to myself and my music."

Paul Liberatore can be reached at liberatore@marinij.com
- Marin IJ


While Paris is enjoying her time behind bars, Linsday's stuck in rehab and the rest of Hollywood's big names party until they puke, the underground music scene in Los Angeles is busy celebrating the release of MIRRORS, female singer-songwriter Amy Cooper's most recent release on Retone Records. Recently embarking ona nationwide tour, Cooper will play Pianos in NYC July 3 and July 5th.

Channeling artists ranging from Jewel to Michelle Branch, Amy Cooper is a burst of sunshine in the otherwise stoic indie scene. Temaing up with producer Frank Lenz, who also worked with Starflyer 59 and Headphones, MIRRORS guitar driven melodies and girly sweet lyrics sound like outpourings of a changing woman's diary.

Unlike every other girls who has stars in her eyes while strumming an acoustic guitar, Cooper is the real deal. Her breathy peppy voice cannot help but make you smile as you bob your head along to her pop songs. Along with her backing band consisting of Noah Wheeler on the drums and Chris Peck on bass, there is no doubt that this young woman is going places. - AQUARIAN WEEKLY- Stephanie Keller


Amy Cooper may be the best guitar-wielding rock 'n' roll woman you’ve never heard.

When she stands onstage mercilessly squeezing power chords from her electric guitar and projecting her voice into a microphone, it’s pretty easy to get carried away with the noise coming out of the speakers. And, yeah, it’s easy to believe.

Consider “Come Alive,” a hard-pop confection from her 2006 seven-song EP Mirrors, which references Joan Jett and Liz Phair while kicking off with a crunching riff straight from the Keith Richards playbook. Sure, countless songs have been written, sung and played that evangelically convey the transformative power of rock, but “Come Alive”—with its irresistible “you take me out of this world / back to a teenage girl” refrain—is one of the better ones. If Jett had recorded something as tantalizing as this back in the early ’80s, you know we’d still be hearing it while pushing our shopping carts through Trader Joe’s today.

But if you really need a rock-goddess antecedent to what Cooper is doing, look to poet-rocker Patti Smith. “There’s nothing like seeing her on a big stage, just the way she moves,” Cooper recalls. “But I saw her in a library in Venice with, like, 20 people, and she was singing with an acoustic guitar and reading poetry. It was insane.” To see Cooper play live is to recognize that she has assimilated more than a bit of Smith’s serpentine grace.

But she didn’t spring forth from the kind of urban New Jersey milieu that birthed Smith. Instead, Cooper hails from the non-gritty Marin County rock havens of Tiburon and Belvedere. She hit New York to study photography and film at NYU, and then moved back to Northern California and recorded her debut album, Water/Fire, in San Francisco; it came out in 2005. Then Cooper moved to Los Angeles, where people from Northern California traditionally go to get serious about careers in music, and she recorded Mirrors last year.

Somewhere along the line, local promoter Jerry Perry began championing Cooper in Sacramento, booking her every few months into Old Ironsides. I happened to catch her on one of those nights last year and couldn’t believe my ears. Then, last fall, I was in New York and chanced to see that Cooper was playing a club in SoHo, and she delivered as much magic there as she had here. I’ve probably seen her four or five times now, and she just gets better and better.

But if local crowds have yet to catch wise to her charms, Cooper nevertheless is proceeding with her first full tour, which touches down here on Saturday, at Old Ironsides with Red Host. She’ll be employing her standard power-trio format—guitar, bass, drums—to deliver the punch of Mirrors, a disc that rocked a bit harder than the singer-songwritery Water/Fire.

“Definitely with [Mirrors], I just wanted to do some raw, straight-up, very simple songs that I could rock out and have fun,” she explains, adding, “They’re pretty easy to play with a three-piece.”

As a guitarist, Cooper is self-taught, having learned most of the nuances by just listening and playing along. “I never took any lessons,” she says. “I was a tap dancer for a really long time, so I have a really built-in kind of rhythm. I’ve always been a rhythm guitar player; I’m just really rhythm-driven.” Cooper also plays the drums on her demos, a practice that’s recommended for any musician who wants to grasp the basics of rhythm.

The upshot is that although Cooper may truly be another in a long line of guitar-playing rock-lady royalty like Smith, Phair and Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino (the latter a favorite of hers), she’s starting to hit her stride and find her own voice as a performer. Whether she becomes a household name or a footnote, Cooper certainly can and will deliver the goods. Now you’ve heard—and on Saturday, you’ll see.

- Sacramento News and Review


Review - Female singer/songwriter Amy Cooper on “Mirrors” finds a new fangled passion for crafting sweet alternative pop hooks. Adding a dash of sexiness to each song, Cooper wrote the album alongside co-producer Frank Lenz who also lent his talent on in the rhythm section on the drums and bass. Sort of like a less distorted Breeders with a bit of Belly almost, “Mirrors” boasts a fun atmosphere and creative listen. - smother.net


WEST COAST PERFORMER CD REVIEW AUGUST 1, 2007
Amy Cooper — Mirrors
Recorded by Frank Lenz and Amy Cooper (“Tonight We Fly” recorded by Scott Solter)
Mixed by Gideon Zaretsky
L.A.-based solo chanteuse and guitarist Amy Cooper paid several years of performing dues in the live music venues of New York City. The formative influence of that apprenticeship experience is very apparent in her sound, which combines a garage rock methodology of spare instrumentation and dark, intense introspection with the simplicity of classic singer-songwriter artistry.

On her latest release, the seven-track EP, Mirrors, Cooper alternates between two singing styles: a pixie-ish, reedy tone and a deeper, alto-pitched delivery. These differing vocal approaches accompany a pair of diverse songwriting styles — namely a slower acoustic trend contrasted with a plugged-in and energized declaration driven more by electric guitar. An acoustic ode chronicling a major romantic mistake and the first-person story of a girl who left a sure thing for a smooth talker, “You Can’t Have It All” falls in the first category. The song’s female subject made it through that wrong turn with a narcissistic lover, coming out wiser but much, much sadder.

The second approach is showcased in “Back Together,” the catchiest song of the collection. Sexy guitar, percussive drums and layered harmonies make for a memorable composition. “Undertow” continues in the same vein; a well-constructed song, Cooper’s guitar part matches the notes she sings almost perfectly, adding punctuation that makes the track a standout. “Come Alive” is another fast-paced number that summarizes Cooper’s overwhelming attraction to a fellow musician with the line, “You’re like the light of the sun.”

A bittersweet fragment, “25” ends Mirrors on a strange note. A preliminary sketch of a work in progress, it relates Cooper’s as-of-yet-unfulfilled expectations of adulthood, trailing off into a “To be continued...” (Retone Records)

www.amycoopermusic.com
http://www.performermag.com/wcp.recordedreviews.0708.php
- West Coast Performer Magazine


Amy Cooper – Mirrors
Reviewer's Rating: 9

Amy Cooper’s “Mirrors” has songs that are filled with metaphors of life’s occurrences both good and bad. Cooper mesmerizes listeners with her magnetic vocals, and the instrumentation is simple. It doesn’t diminish Cooper’s thought provoking messages on each track. The first song has a quick bout of what sounds like static in the intro then segues into drum and guitar work. Cooper’s vocals are calm as she emotes about identifying something in her counterpart’s stare and how she longs for him with lines such as, “There’s something in your eyes that I can recognize. I want you but I got to wait..” The slow pace of the song signals to listeners that Cooper is biding her time as her desire smolders.
Then almost immediately, Cooper’s voice emerges with an acerbic tone as she slyly sings about falling back into an unpleasant pattern because of a certain male in her life. “I fell back into you but I’ve hit the ground. Now all that’s left is an echoing sound. It won’t be long until I disappear…Get back together again. Get back together again
Amy Cooper’s “Mirrors” has some phenomenal breakup songs that have a catchy beat, which might make listeners forget the somber messages in most tracks. Her lyrics have real thought behind them and listeners won’t be able to escape being drawn into the images Cooper projects.

Reviewer: Sari N. Kent
- Celebrity Cafe celebritycafe.com


D-I-Y rocker Amy Cooper is a California girl who cut her teeth musically while studying photography in New York City. Inspired by Greenwich Village underground musicians Arto Lindsay and Blonde Redhead, Cooper was soon sharing stages with comparable performers like Juliana Hatfield, Martha Wainwright and Tracy Bonham. Returning to the Bay Area in 2005, she released her first album, Water/Fire, and a few years later (after trading San Francisco for L.A.) her follow-up EP, Mirrors, was released on Retone/Leftwing Records (May 2007). Cooper’s brand of “hard-pop” gets her comared to Liz Phair and Patti Smith a lot, and her guitar skills have some critics mentioning Keith Richards, too. - ART VOICE- Buffalo, NY


Discography

WATER/FIRE 2005 produced by JOHN VANDERSLICE
MIRRORS EP 2007 produced by FRANK LENZ

RADIO: charting #13 Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
#23 single FMQB
SPINS: KSWI (Atlantic, IA), WMWX (Cincinnati), WEND (Charlotte), WKGB (Binghamton), KDHX (St Louis), KATT (OKC), KACV (Amarillo), Waitt Radio (Syndicated), WKGB (Binghamton), KFTE (Lafayette, LA), WXPK (White Plains), WKZE (Syndicated), KPFT (Houston) KKUP (Cupertino, CA)

Photos

Bio

After a successful collaborative with John Vanderslice on 2005s Water/Fire, Los Angeles-based artist Amy Cooper teams with another indie powerhouse, Frank Lenz (Starflyer 59, Headphones), for her Retone Records debut titled Mirrors.

A San Francisco native, Amy Cooper moved to New York to study photography, while also pursuing music -- a passion she stumbled on at age 17 when she found her father’s dusty old guitar in the garage.

Equally inspired by the films of Rainer Werner Fassbiner and the artwork of Egon Schiele as she was with the music of Arto Lindsay and Blonde Redhead, Amy began to reach a creative apex while performing at clubs like CBGB’s, Pianos, and the Village Underground alongside the likes of Juliana Hatfield, Martha Wainwright and Tracy Bonham.

After living and breathing New York for a few years, Amy moved back to the Bay Area to begin work on her debut album. With the guidance of indie-rock pioneers John Vanderslice and Scott Solter, she recorded Water/Fire at John’s studio, Tiny Telephone and released the album independently in early 2005.

The San Francisco Bay Guardian praised the debut stating, “Water/Fire will catch you off guard and subtly hook you in, like a moth to a flame.”

With her disc in hand, Amy headed out on a solo tour for most of the year, sharing bills with Rachael Yamagata, Hem, Mt. Egypt and Kelley Stoltz.

In 2006, Amy moved to Los Angeles to begin work on her latest release Mirrors. The seven songs, led by Amy’s sultry vocals and guitar driven melodies with co-producer Frank Lenz on drums and bass, are a reflection of songwriter’s life with tracks like “Come Alive” celebrating the joys of young love: “I feel what I’ve never felt before/ I’m in over my head And I’m Coming Back For More / You Take Me Out Of This World / Back To A Teenage Girl / Wishing Your Eyes Would Turn On Me Soon.”