Feel the Love


Indie Sounds NY, Issue 28 (page 4) November 2007
Indie Sounds NY
The L Word, by Lauren Jonik
Renee Cologne, "Rock & Roll Housewife", Backdoor Records

Rarely have the words “rock and roll” and “housewife” fit together so succinctly as in the descriptive title of Renee Cologne’s new album, Rock and Roll Housewife. "Wandering the aisles at Sears / wondering how I ended here" introduces the first song, Know I Said, as Cologne stands invitingly in the musical doorway. Before journeying to the instantly relatable chorus about the beauty of changing one’s mind, Cologne decides, "I’ll take the dryer and you". In Housewife, Cologne instructs "Put two feet on the floor, leave the bed warm / Keep breathing as you run for the door / Flip the cakes in the pan / Set the table and which way will the fire fly first?" Cologne inspires the notion that perhaps creating a collection of songs is as detailed a process as running a household. And, it is only through the mastering of the appearance of simplicity that its true complexity can begin to be discovered.

Cologne’s musical journey began early in her childhood and has led her down many twisting and turning paths that have included a getting degree in recording engineering from Berklee College of Music after attending college for music in her home state of North Carolina, background singing for Meatloaf in front of half a million people, and being the voice you’ve probably already heard singing on many well-known commercials. But, Cologne’s latest two projects are especially close to her heart: releasing her latest CD and becoming a mother. Of the album, Cologne says with a chuckle, “It’s sort of like taking “Desperate Housewives” one step further. Although, it’s not meant to be all funny because it’s about the whole path that we’re all on in our lives. It’s tragic and funny and larger than life. It IS life. So that is where I draw my inspiration from: everyday life and the grandness and the smallness of it.”

Cologne recently celebrated the release of her CD at Joe’s Pub and remaining true to having been influenced by David Bowie, Elton John and Queen, Cologne adds an almost theatrical touch by wearing beautiful and well-planned costumes. “I want to be inclusive with the audience and with people who find a kindred spirit in what I’m doing, but I also want to entertain them.” While she values the time spent alone creating, Cologne views her live performances as “the completion of the creative circle. For me, so much of the process is done by myself in my attic studio.”

Well-versed in the technological aspects, Cologne’s music encompasses a colorful palette of sounds. But, she acknowledges, “As much as I’m interested in electronic music and in technology, the song really is still the most important thing to me. The song still has to be strong and there has to be an emotional element otherwise, why bother? It’s about communication and not about the bells and whistles.”

Of her days touring with Meatloaf, Cologne says, “That was like “Spinal Tap.” We had a teal green tour bus and the stories were long and many-fold. The second gig we did was in London for the Prince’s Trust in Hyde Park and I had no idea what we were going into. We went to walk on stage and there were people for as far as you can see. There were probably 500, 000 people and helicopters were flying overhead. It was a real trip and very exciting.”

If you’ve watched TV during the past few years, chances are good that you may have heard Renee Cologne’s voice. In addition to creating her own music, Cologne sings on commercials. It was her voice on a frequently run, highly acclaimed M&M commercial that was run for about a year. “I’m lucky that I make a living basically from doing commercials. The TJ Maxx commercials are all me and I’m singing on the Master Card commercials for the Christmas campaign that’s getting ready to start.”

With life an ever-changing work in progress for all of us, Renee Cologne has found the best of both of her worlds. “I just came back from the grocery store and I was putting groceries away and on my countertop, I have “Electronic Musician” and “Parenting” magazines that came today in the mail and that pretty much sums it up.”

Join Renee for her next live show at The Cutting Room on January 23, 2008.

Lauren Jonik is a freelance writer and photographer based in Brooklyn who enjoys blending her love of music with her passion for writing. She is the founder and editor of the website www.soundaffects.net. Contact her at lauren@soundaffects.net.

Splendid E-Zine, by Jay Breitling
RENEE COLOGNE- The Opposite Of (Backdoor Records)

There is surprising depth to Renee Cologne’s glossy pop; she dishes out full compositions laced with Eastern melodies and jazzy instrumentation. Indeed, The Opposite Of offers an overdriven take on mainstream pop, layering lush vocals amid a forest of trumpets, violins and cellos. The sophisticated compositions showcase Cologne’s skills as a multiinstrumentalist -- she’s responsible for almost all of the album’s string arrangements, drum programming, keyboard, bass and guitar playing. Oh, and she manhandles the lion’s share of the backing vocals, in addition to her lead-vocal duties.

Eastern melodies offer persistent and exotic nuances. For example, album opener "Tired" quietly stomps through a subdued verse and a swelling chorus to arrive at Turkishsounding reed licks, anachronistic strings and industrial thumps. All the while, an ethereal keyboard line tremolos on the periphery. The effect is fresh and smart. But Cologne’s most intriguing efforts are those structured around electro beats, which rear their heads in a number of tracks, including the relatively straightforward "Sylvia Says" and "Mad Hatter". The latter number is the closest thing the record has to a big rocker, though in Cologne’s vernacular that means the guitars compete with strings and layers upon layers of gorgeous vocal harmonies.

The record’s most compelling song is "Nap", whose dry humor and IDM foundation combine to draw the listener into its tiny world of nursery-rhyme keys and sultry singing. Of course, the album’s bedrock is always straight pop, coating Cologne’s experimentation with enough sugar to make almost all of the songs sweet, approaching unique. Indeed, Cologne’s forays into electro and IDM are more of a sampling than a real fixation on those styles -- but fans of more progressive pop will be rewarded time and time again, listening to The Opposite Of and plumbing the depths of its intricate production.

Tom “Tearaway” Schulte
Renee Cologne, The Opposite Of, Back Door Records

On The Opposite Of pop vocalist Renee Cologne sings in front of an intriguing blend of drum programming, a string section and horns. Matching these big, electronic beats to the synthesized and acoustic instruments gives a trip hop quality and smoky, after-hours feel to the music. What all this adds up to is the dramatic and theatric. It is no wonder that a promising singer-songwriter and producer that lists David Bowie and Freddie Mercury among her influences should produce music that is majestic and dramatic, painted in stunning, bold strokes on an over-sized canvas. (4 out of 5)

CD Review:RENEE COLOGNE- The Opposite Of

THE OPPOSITE OF, the new release by RENEE COLOGNE is the ultimate pop CD. A combination of both live musicians and programming, this 10 song release hits every mark with perfection.

MISS COLOGNE wears all the hats on this one. She sang, wrote, recorded and produced the entire CD. Quite a task for any artist when most are usually just trying to get out a good vocal track.... and that she does as well.

Singing with a breathy and seductive voice, MISS COLOGNE still manages to convey strength at the same time. She has a voice filled with the character and emotion of a true pop diva. A real head turner if you know what I mean.

The songs are written and produced to match the style of her voice, very strong and sexy, which becomes apparent by the third cut on the CD. Refreshingly, while keeping a common thread between all the cuts, each song truly has a different flavor helping to keep ones attention for it’s entirety.

What can I say other than "Go Girl!"

COLLECTED SOUNDS, Review by Anna Maria Stjarnell

There are records that are immediately arresting. This is one of them. Renee Cologne has a wide screen, luminous sound. Her second CD is a masterful work.

The opener "Tired" is a minor symphony with lush strings surrounding Cologne’s vivid vocals. The cinematic feel continues with "Roses". The song strays into Portishead territory with big dramatic beats and an undulating melody. The laidback "Sylvia Says" is an evocative pop song. "Let Myself Alone" is bluesy and sinuous. Cologne has a grittier vocal delivery here. She seems to enjoy taking common blues phrases and doing her own spin on them. Techno-ish beats adorn "Nap" and make it a memorable song.

The Opposite Of is an inspired and complex record.


Renee Cologne describes herself as "orchestral, electronic pop." I’d say that was doing herself down as the sound she has created on her debut album is far grander than that title suggests. Using both computer technology and live musicians, she has created ten stylistically diverse, anthemic pop songs.

She lists a huge number of influences from Bjork to U2 to Jane Silberry to PJ Harvey to Bulgarian Women’s Choirs (and that is quite a condensed list!). The most obvious influences come from Bjork and PJ Harvey in the grandiose arrangements and occasionally Renee manages to sound like the singer from Whale (in a good way).

Lyrically the album is crammed full of bitterness, carefully hidden under sweetly sung vocals. This only adds to the number of levels on which you can listen to this album - depending on how much attention you are paying to its different aspects it could make you feel happy, heartbroken, relaxed or just angry. It’s all very theatrical (which is apparently something she plays on in her live shows) and very carefully constructed - both musically and lyrically.

Regular readers will probably be aware of my generally low opinion of things that arrive on my doorstep from US indie labels, which should only further drive home what an important and special album this is. 4/5 (AM)