Saturday, March 14, 2015

Artist: The Cosmos Kids

Artist: The Cosmos Kids

The Cosmos Kids were duly adulated for their promising debut, Volume One. Indeed, the Cosmos Kids tipped their hand at greatness with “Saying Goodbye,” “Been So Long,” and to a lesser extent “Desert Song” and “Ally in the Sky Part Two.”

Their sophomore effort, Volume II, pushes past the indulgences of the original, leaving its instrumental middle section at the side of the road – seizing, spastic, spasmodic. The Cosmos Kids apparently discovered that building the perfect psychedelic garage is a functional pursuit. Namely, if support columns (jam sessions) don't reach the ceiling (add to the song), then knock those fuckers down.
On their Facebook page, the Cosmos Kids list diverse influences that include “The Entire Nuggets Compilation” (which I'll presume includes songs from the 1998 CD reissue). Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, the compilation of American garage rock singles that were released in the mid-to-late 1960s, can be broken down into knockoffs and originals. As for the imitators, we get obvious knockoffs of the Beatles (“One Track Mind” by The Knickerbockers), the Rolling Stones (“Don't Look Back” by Barry & the Remains), and the Beach Boys (“My World Fell Down” by Sagittarius), in addition to Ray Charles (Sir Douglas Quintet's “She's About a Mover”) and the Kinks (bitten by the Kinks themselves via The Rationals' cover of “I Need You” aka “All Day and All of the Night”).

But then there are Nuggets tracks that aren't inspired by commercially successful output. Had the Cosmos Kids been born in that age – and who said they weren't (time travelers, all of them!) – they'd fit nicely into this camp. Theirs is a down-tempo woozy feel with vocals conveying a dreariness balanced by surfy reverb. [Comparing it to the Nuggets, the Cosmos Kids' kinfolk are “I'm Gonna Make You Mine” (The Shadows of Knight) and “Can't Seem to Make You Mine” (The Seeds).]

The song-writer(s) for the Cosmos Kids (and related projects) are among the best in Chicago. Their considerable faculty with hooks is on full display here with Volume Two – check :33 of “26 and 24” and :33 then :44 of “Our Love.” “And We Sing” is perhaps the best example of how the Cosmos Kids operate. A rarity in popular music, the song starts with a catchy melody driving the song: on bass. Then woozy vocal leads jockey for position: in rounds. The “la la la” pre-chorus sets up yet another memorable hook (at :52). Better yet, the standout track, “Come Back Home,” doesn't have any transcendent moments, because you can't rise above perfection. (If I had to choose though, notable moments are the guitar accents, e.g. at :14). Even the instrumental, “Eclipsing,” is effective relative to those on Volume One. The difference? The Cosmos Kids opt for atmospheric flourish over repetition (Volume One's “LongTimes”) and high-volume lead guitar-work (“Cosmos”).

Not unlike the contemporary master of the throwback, Ariel Pink, the Cosmos Kids sound like drug music written by people not on drugs. As it turns out, Pink Floyd would approve (

*** The author of this review, Kenneth Martin, plays the assotor for the following band:

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