One of music’s greatest gifts is its ability to shine a light on ourselves and our society. The protest anthem has existed across all genres and styles, been passed down through generations and has played a huge part in how we see the world around us. The multi instrumentalist, producer and songwriter Matthew Urango aka Cola Boyy, seems to get that sometimes the best way to pass on the messages you want to get across is to wrap them up in a beautiful bow.
Cola Boyy’s debut album Prosthetic Boombox is a heavy dose of concentrated fun-shine that incorporates disco, soul and funk with an avant-garde flair that wouldn’t look out of place on artists as seemingly as disparate as Prince and Cornelius. It’s a triumph of production and style but with some serious substance. Urango grew up in Oxnard, California, a town filled with unbelievable struggles. As Urango says, “The working class are injured, struggling to pay rent and struggling to put food on the table and I want my music to reflect that world.” The dance floor resistance that Cola Boyy has crafted is also one of liberation, a call to come together to support each other through this thing we call life.
Prosthetic Boombox showcases how great of a producer Urango is and he uses his clout as a master to attract a high level of star power to guest on the album. Joining Cola Boyy is Andrew VanWyngarden from MGMT, John Carroll Kirby, Nicolas Godin of Air, Patrick Wimberly from Chairlift and The Avalanches, who help kick off this virtual block party on the absolute jam “Don’t Forget Your Neighbourhood”. Directly inspired by Urango’s love of his own hometown, the track’s message is commendable and also, perhaps, the song of the summer. Fuelled by a rubber band bass line, some staccato electric piano and Urango’s plea to hold on to the things that have got you to where you are today. He sings, “Fight for your town, don’t you let go/Reach out and grab it more than just a memory/Fight for your town with your fist closedStrike it and make it more than just a memory”. It’s a call for personal action and it hits as hard as the track’s sonic punch. Urango’s vocal delivery is one of the more unique parts of his repertoire. Born with Spina Bifida, which is a neural tube formation defect, his singing style was one that is an outcome from his circumstances but he uses it to a distinct advantage, furthering the album’s thesis.
“Song For The Mister” is a suavely smooth funk jam punctuated by laser beam blast and the sweetest guitar riff that fills the tracks coda with so much colourful texture. “Kid Born In Space”, a collaboration with MGMT, is intimately crafted full of warmth, percussive flourish and Urango’s sincere vocals. When Urango sings, “I see them looking down on my dreams of being/I hear them making fun of my voice/but I keep on moving forward/I refuse to live in anyone else’s shadow”, and it sums up Cola Boyy’s intentions perfectly. You don’t have to let the world keep you down. Keep on moving, living your life the way you intend to and with the support of your community, you’ll be just fine.
As the world begins to heal from the last year and change and as we all look around at where we are for guidance, it feels like Prosthetic Jukebox has come out at the most opportune time. It’s an album of deep grooves and an even deeper message. One which we can meditate on while shaking our butts and it feels like the best way to remedy our past and kick off a better future.
Order Prosthetic Boombox by Cola Boyy HERE
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