Some bands, after staying away from the recording studio for 20 years, would go out of their way to make a big splash when they chose to reward their loyal fans for years of patience. Chavez clearly have other ideas; Cockfighters, their first release since 1996's Ride the Fader, features just three songs and is over in a bit less than nine minutes, wrapping up just as one has a chance to sink into the music. This EP also doesn't break any new ground for the band, though that's hardly a bad thing in and of itself. Chavez put out two great albums in the '90s, and Cockfighters is cut from the same cloth as their best work. Smart, angular, but accessible, these tunes show Chavez are still navigating the spaces between hard rock guitar crunch and indie rock melodic expression, and finding plenty of rewarding things en route. Just as always, Matt Sweeney and Clay Tarver's guitars mesh beautifully, Scott Marshall's bass patterns hold down the low end with thoughtful, full-bodied precision, and James Lo's drumming is excellent, boasting a jazzy gift for filling the space without sparing muscle or drive. In short, Cockfighters is good enough to make one wish there was a lot more of it. If these three songs are a preview of a full-length Chavez record in the not so distant future, then they've done a splendid job of whetting our collective appetite. But if Cockfighters is just a short communiqué before the bandmembers go their separate ways again, it falls somewhere between a gift and a tease, though Chavez fans past and present will enjoy these nine minutes while they last.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming