On July 12th, Chris Cohen will release Paint a Room, his fourth full-length and debut effort for Hardly Art. Sublime and sunlit, this collection of 10 songs considers dreamy new ways out of old predicaments, clearly stating the problem and dancing and singing their way somewhere new.

Cohen has never had as much to sing so directly as he does on Paint a Room. If Cohen’s meanings have previously lurked inside the tessellated musical layers he built alone, they are newly clear and resonant here, animated and underscored for the first time by a band playing in real-time. Enlisting help from longtime touring bandmates Davin Givhan (bass), Josh da Costa (drums), and Jay Israelson (keyboards), he built demos in a dusty garage of a suburban Altadena rental and tried something new—he took the songs on tour with that crew, yielding total control by letting them fill in or flourish their own parts as they saw fit.

Cohen called in a few friendsto help, with multi-instrumentalist and composer Jeff Parker contributing the fluttering horn arrangement on “Damage” and Parker’s collaborator Josh Johnson (who produced Meshell Ndegeocello’s Grammy-Award-winning album The Omnichord Real Book) supplying flute, sax, and clarinet arrangements throughout the record. Paint a Room was produced and engineered by Chris Cohen, mixed by Kenny Gilmore (Weyes Blood), and Mastered by Mike Nolte at Eureka Mastering.

On the album’s subversively melodious opener and lead single, “Damage,” Chris Cohen shares:

“Trying to make something beautiful as a way to think through a problem, I wrote this song to consider the many forms state violence takes and the subtly pervasive habit of denying someone else’s personhood. We’re told that police, prisons, and the military are necessary to ensure peace, but like many people, I’ve come to see that it’s actually the opposite. I definitely struggled to find what I thought were the right words, to say something that might be hard for some of us to hear. This is my best attempt for now – my version of an abolitionist pop song:”


‘At the hospital and the middle school

Anywhere you look

Someone’s power over someone else

Protecting property

But only life is precious

Only life is precious


Somebody’s love was shot down today

Don’t believe what they say

You can’t just throw someone away

There is another way

Where the damage is done

This is the place for everyone’

2 mei 2024
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