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I was surprised when a copy of the reissue turned up in my mailbox, accompanied by a second disc containing a dozen demos and rarities. I hadn't thought about Cotton Mather in many years, and to say I did much thinking about them at all overstates the case. I couldn't even remember when I'd gotten rid of my original copy of Kontiki. But I put the album on and certain songs instantly triggered memories—the whole thing is much better than I remembered. "My Before and After" and "Vegetable Row," which is today's 12 O'Clock Track, sound totally vibrant and exciting, but also totally familiar—more than a decade later their hooks still kill. The harmony singing is strong, the production terrific, and the melodies sometimes achieve the sublime. I don't know if I'd call it a bona fide classic, but I'm pretty sure you won't find a band that can poke a bigger hole in the Great Man theory than Cotton Mather. They broke up in 2003, after a handful of subsequent singles and another album, and reunited for a performance at SXSW last month—but I don't want a comeback. I'm fine with a second chance to dig Kontiki.
Cotton Mather, "Vegetable Row"