Rhett May serves up “Cocktails and Cannabis”
Lurching over a chic club beat, a devastatingly erotic guitar riff enters the spotlight and instantly enraptures us with its stunning tonality. It’s followed up by a gorgeously groovy bassline that mirrors its every move in the background while harmonizing with a seductive drum pattern that is as brooding as an archaic elegy. We are in the throes of passion with Rhett May’s “Cocktails and Cannabis” from the moment that it comes oozing out of our stereo speakers and writhes in a blue-colored rhythm that will leave even the most discriminating of rock connoisseurs begging for more.
The bassline is as think as a cloud of smoke, but its rigid structure isn’t riddled with the excesses of surrealism. “Cocktails and Cannabis” is surprisingly tight for being a fusion of hard rock and grinding blues, but at the same time, I’ve come to expect as much with anything that Rhett May releases. He’s always on top of his game behind the soundboard, and this single is, in this sense, no different than anything he’s cut in the past. What makes it somewhat of an oddity in his discography is its defined postmodernity, which allows for the track to meld really colorful textures together without ever feeling scattered.
Lyrically, “Cocktails and Cannabis” isn’t nearly as enigmatic as the majority of what we’ve heard out of May’s contemporaries this spring, nor is it overly poetic or even remotely pretentious. Rhett May is being stone cold with us about the realities of addiction, the harsh subtext of the high, and what’s most interesting is that he’s not being the least bit self-righteous in his declarations. We never get the impression that he’s trying to sell us the narrative here; instead, it’s more like he’s relating a personal story laced with honest vulnerability to us.
The blues-laden strut in the guitars adds a lot of tension to the music, and while it could have sounded a bit mundane were it not accented with the bludgeoning bass, May demonstrates his musical IQ in this track and avoids such preventable disasters with ease. There’s a familiar swing in the percussion, but there’s nothing recycled about “Cocktails and Cannabis.” This is just straight up rock n’ roll with an important meaning behind its prose, and if there were ever a time when we needed something like this in the world, it’s definitely now. Rock has been struggling in the last decade, but artists like Rhett May are keeping its storied legacy going strong as we look towards 2020.
Rhett May has yet to disappoint any of his longtime supporters or critics like myself, and in “Cocktails and Cannabis,” he turns in another smash of a single that speaks to the very soul of the rock n’ roll model like few other songs you’ll encounter this season will. There’s no frilly samples here, no swarthy transitions in tempo, no angular ambient intricacies to texturize the rhythm. There’s just May, a guitar, a bass and a drum kit, and together they’re dishing out one melodic Molotov after another in a four minute masterpiece.