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The Co-operators

Drivetime" lullabies...

I don't drive. In fact, I hate cars. They're big, stupid, smelly and they always try and knock me off my bike. Still, whenever I do get in a car, I get the instinctive urge to take a roadtrip - to just hit the highway and start driving, with no destination in mind, just away. The car is no longer an enemy; instead it becomes a means to freedom.

Maybe it's all those family car trips I took as a kid - to the Maritimes and back twice before the age of 8 - but there's something really comforting about a long drive, far from everything you know and take for granted. It's the same feeling you get listening to The Co-operators. I call their music "cottage-rock" - good-time tunes as relaxing and familiar as a weekend by the lake and the trees, and just as exciting as piling into the car for a trip up north.

The trio was founded in the summer of 1998 as a vehicle for the songs of guitarist Sara Montgomery, a T.O. scene vet whose credits include The Schoolgirls, Chicken Milk, Naugahyde 5, and of course the amazing Venus Cures All. Sara's numbers possess the same rockin' melancholy as those of Neil Young, Hüsker Dü and Guided by Voices. Cranked-up, heartfelt and proud (and good to raise a glass to, eh?). Easing off on the mathematical craziness of Venus, The Co-operators - rounded out by the able rhythmic assistance of bassist Greg Smith (Oxford County Circus, Orbital Action) and Chris Oliver (Adventure Playground) - play it straight, letting the songs speak for themselves.

Live, Sara's sweet voice jumps out of the mix with astonishing clarity - yet look out; her words can cut like glass, or a knife for that matter (incidentally, the threesome has been known to run through "Summer of '69"...). So play safe and watch Greg's legs move him about the stage like a drunken Godzilla - though with his facial hair, plaid shirt and funky bass style, he more resembles Mike Watt's long-lost hoser nephew.

The Co-operators are currently finishing up tracks with Andrew McCoffin of The Two-Minute Miracles at his miraculous eight-track studio in London, and a split CD with sibling band Wayne Omaha is out in late March. And in case you were wondering, they are named after the insurance group. So if you run into them at a club, don't forget to exchange information. 'Cuz there ain't a better band to get hammered with!

(NOTE: None of the above is meant to imply that drinking and driving are at all a good combination, eh [hic]!)

- Jonny Dovercourt

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