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cd review: cho dependent by margaret cho

posted by jroselkim

The first time I listened to Margaret Cho’s stand-up performance, I was taken by the careful and deliberate pace, as well as the meaningful pauses that gave you time to think about the inequalities and the wrongful assumptions we often make in our society. (For a great example of her deliberateness, check out the clip of “Asian Chicken Salad” posted below) Given her style, then, it’s no surprise that her new album Cho Dependent not only focuses on comedy, but also musical craftsmanship itself.

The roster of collaborators includes an impressive number of indie musical darlings: Andrew Bird, Rachel Yagamata and Ani DiFranco as well as veteran Canuck musical heavyweights like Tegan and Sara, Carl Newman (New Pornographers) and Kevin Drew (Broken Social Scene). There’s even a throw-back to the (naughty) past, as Kevin Chong (yes, that Chong of Cheech & Chong fame) makes an appearance in an aptly titled track, “Calling In Stoned”.

I admit, the pure joy and fun of hearing many of the indie stars’ voices in one album took most of my attention away in the first listen of the album. But Cho doesn’t let the guests outshine her. Staying true to her comic sensibility, Cho doessn’t shy away from taboo topics, including funny zingers about reality TV shows delighting in people’s addictions (“It’s not your birthday but all your friend and family are there” – “Intervention”), extreme stalking gone wrong (“I’m sorry I killed you dear / I only wanted you to be near”- “I’m Sorry”), smoking pot, and of course, dicks.

It doesn’t hurt to have an all-star backup, but Cho’s vocal chops can definitely hold their own. She can hit the high notes as well as add texture and strength like a front-lining vocalist should in songs like “Eat Shit and Die”.

Cho Dependent is not only rich in comedic gems but some serious musical talent and what we could call good music – catchy melodies and snappy, witty lyrics. In the press release announcing the new album, Cho describes her inspiration for the album, where she wanted to create and contribute to a genre of music that is “hilarious but also seriously good.”She’s succeeded and some more, I’d say.

She’s also going on tour to promote her new album, with stops in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. Let’s go give her some love, invazn!

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