“Underdog Chorus” is the latest album from the Danish band Kuko De Kobra (that guitarist John Sharling had to write, record, and release on his own). The album is composed of 13 tracks, some of which are less than 3 minutes long (sometimes less than two) and an entire duration of 38 minutes.
The opening track, “Where You Are Going”, is positive and uplifting. Sharling’s vocals have a unique sound to them with their clear pronunciation, nasal sound, and impeccable breath and distortion control. With the bass being Sharling’s mean instrument, you should expect nothing less than epic basslines and that’s exactly what the track delivers. What surprised me though, was the piano/synth lines playing in the background and how beautiful they made the song. The songs flow into one another as the second song begins. The groovy, bass-led, and super-catchy Miss Gandolfinito has got to be one of my favorite tracks on the album with its pummeling drums and powerful vocals. The vocals this time are full of high screams and a beautiful mixed register that heavily reminds me of the late Chris Cornell. The third track, Summer In Pieces, is another short track that has great clean vocals and an awesome bassline as usual. But the most fun thing about it is the added percussion and claps, to be honest.
A turning point in the album is the fourth track, Yes, This Is Going To Hurt, which was inspired by noise rock and heavier genres than the rest of the tracks. Contrary to the heavily-distorted guitars and heavy drums the vocals sound vulnerable and emotional and only the higher parts of the chorus are screamed/sung with distortion. The guitar tone of this song and the brief solo added greatly to its 2000s vibe and this makes it a very special one out of the bunch. The following track, Alright, has a nice chord progression with clean guitars during the verses which made the distortion during the chorus very satisfying to listen to. The guitar riff/refrain that plays after the chorus was also another beautiful detail that I loved so much here. Alligator Heartbeat is another short and fast number with more high screams and super-charged basslines, meanwhile Fourteen Minus Two (Plus Two) is a very industrial-ish interlude with reverbed vocals and oriental-sounding drums in between a few rhythm guitar lines.
Let A Good Girl Down is a very post-grunge/alt-rock track that reminded me of the good days of Seether and Creed. The melodic vocals here and the tapping guitars give this track one of the best choruses on the entire album. Cherenkov Blue has some clean guitar strumming (in between the regular distortions) and great backing vocals (with lots of soft ooohs) that make for a 70s-like atmosphere which I really loved. Giving Up On Letting Go is another melodic track that will make you wanna get up and dance. Sharling really shows how great of a guitarist he is on this one, because it’s not all about technique this time around and it has some really beautiful melodies and feelings behind it.
Good (The Goldberg Complications) begins with a an intro scream that almost broke my eardrums with its intensity. The track is almost entirely sung in Sherling’s distorted clean voice which will definitely appeal to fans of Scott Stapp and Chris Cornell and show them that there are still some great rock vocalists around these days. It really seems like he left the best for last because this is with no doubt his greatest vocal performance on the whole record. The scream is repeated before the bridge/breakdown section in the middle of the song and I still could not get enough of it and had to repeat the track to feel those goosebumps all over again. The thirteenth and final track, We Won’t Be Leaving Early, is an epic album closer which brings together elements from all the other songs. It begins with clean melodic vocals and clean guitar strumming with the distorted guitars taking the background duties only. It is not until half the song has passed that we get to hear the larger-than-life bassline and the wall of sound that the guitars play behind it. The ending is just feedback from the amplifiers until the song closes, putting an end to the beautiful record.
All in All, Underdog Chorus is a very diverse and musically rich album where no two songs sound the same. My favourites have got to be the heavier ones for sure, especially the groovy Miss Gondalfinito and the vocal masterpiece Good (The Goldberg Complications) but this doesn’t undermine the greatness of the lighter songs in any way or how inspired and sophisticated they sound. The myriad of challenges that John Sherling had to tackle to put out this record on his own were definitely a catalyst that helped in the making of such a powerful masterpiece.
You can check out our Interview with John Sharling to know more details about how this record came to life.