Coco Columbia
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Coco Columbia

Portland, OR | Established. Jan 01, 2014

Portland, OR
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Alternative Pop

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Music

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""When the Birds Begin to Walk" by Coco Columbia"

To say that the newest release from Coco Columbia, When the Birds Begin to Walk, is one hell of a wild ride would be an understatement. Her sophomore release is jazzy pop meets electro funk meets soul meets hip-hop. But what ties the four primary musicians together is their jazz roots. Improvising comes easy to Columbia and the nine other talented collaborators on this album.

When the Birds Begin to Walk is an intense fusion of jazz drums, scratchy and catching guitar riffs, edgy melodies and complex keyboards. Columbia’s high-pitched dream pop vocals perch atop all of this, not grounding the body of music but elevating it. As someone who can do it all, her writing and vocals span all 10 tracks, her drumming and percussion are heard on three of them, and her keys on eight.

Perhaps the track that ranges the widest is on the single, “Weight on Limb.” The melody is simple, kept by Columbia’s writing and harmonies, but the song is chopped into arresting riffs and light-hearted keys. A similar motif runs through the rest of the album, with vibes ranging from the ethereal and downtempo to the upbeat. Coco Columbia does not let up, bringing angst and solace to lovers of all sounds experimental. The improvisational tendencies of all 10 contributors to When the Birds Begin to Walk are nothing short of impressive and a solid example of the extensive and adventurous talent Portland has to offer - Eleven PDX Magazine


"Coco Columbia’s “When the Birds Begin to Walk” Keeps Portland Weird in All the Right Ways"

[PORTLAND FUSION] Once you tear through the slight New Age façade, indie-jazz vocalist Coco Columbia's sophomore album, When the Birds Begin to Walk, reveals itself as an astonishing 10-track gallery piece. Deeply virtuosic from the first note of the layered, beat-defying opening track "Weight on Limb," the record blends prog-jazz breakdowns with spot-on J Dilla homages, all held together by the 25-year-old's vocals. And despite its many quirks—like when Columbia places a searingly groovy cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill" immediately after "Lionhearted," a song that heavily features lyrics inspired by the Hayao Miyazaki film My Neighbor Totoro—the record rewards its creator's daring choices. It's a technically masterful set of songs that's easily among the best jazz-influenced music to emerge from Portland in years, and it comes courtesy of a growing number of 20- and 30-somethings with the skills (but not the dough) to move to more certified jazz meccas. Songs like "Chalkboard Heart" showcase the burning fingers of Israeli transplant Gil Assayas on the Fender Rhodes, with a groove from drummer Micah Hummel and bassist Alex Meltzer that's as good as or better than anything from counterparts in New York. These combined musical efforts bolster the bandleader's rhythmic songwriting style, culminating in a shimmering example of Weird Portland done right. - Willamette Week


"Record Review: Coco Columbia, When the Birds Begin to Walk"

WHENEVER JAZZ ARTISTS attempt to meld their sound with other genres, or vice versa, the results tend to be a mixed bag. The music often pitches too hard in one direction, with one style taking precedence over the other. Lately, though, a few musicians have found that sweet spot where both elements are served in equal proportions. Trumpeter Dave Douglas has found a fantastic collaborator of late with LA beatsmith Shigeto, and David Bowie’s final album was a pure partnership with the Donny McCaslin Quartet.

Jumping on that shortlist is local artist Coco Columbia. This young singer/songwriter has been cutting quite a figure in the local scene with her long colorful wigs and flashy outfits, but it’s her music that’s left the longest-lasting impression. Her 2014 debut, The Weight, was a dazzling if occasionally unbalanced clash of flickering jazz guitar, drum ’n’ bass-like rhythms, and flashes of pure soul and hip-hop. On her newest release, When the Birds Begin to Walk, Columbia’s bold, multi-layered vision has come into complete focus.

The 10 tracks on this album feel delirious and serrated. The drums (played mostly by Micah Hummel) stutter and spurt, turning on a dime into a splashy groove or stopping a song dead in its tracks. It leaves the rest of the musicians—an ensemble that includes Columbia’s regular guitarist Grant Sayler and bassist Alex Meltzer—scrambling around to keep pace and add their own textures and tones to the mix. Nothing ever feels terribly secure but somehow it holds together.

Key to that is the presence of Columbia’s voice. Her crystalline singing is the music’s ballast, which is quite a feat considering how much it shapeshifts even within the course of a single song. On “9 Steps,” Columbia goes from belting to the cheap seats, to cooing to the folks in the front row, to crying to the heavens. She bobs and weaves her way through a smartly deconstructed cover of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill,” not daring to keep pace with the original but instead maintaining her own wild-eyed trajectory. - The Portland Mercury


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy