Friday 11 April 2014

Yellow Ostrich - Cosmos (album)

Alex Schaff has been reading Carl Sagan's Cosmos since the last 2012 release by NYC alt-rockers, Yellow Ostrich. 
Evidently he has been appreciating the big-scheme of things and where he fits into this little Universe of ours. In contrast to previous albums, this seems to have helped settle the played-out themes and moods and that perhaps he's now a narrator looking into his own state and his relationship with others.
The other full-time half of the Ostrich, Michael Tapper, spent a month on the Pacific Ocean sleeping under the same stars that Schaff was dreaming about. 
The experience of space around you when felt with and without loneliness threads through this album...
Setting the scene the track 'Terrors' with calling-out vocals, agitated, fractured guitar sets the album into a run. First single 'Neon Fists' is Radiohead at their most pop-wistfulness, undulating, skittering rhythm under the plaintive vox.
'Shades' slides in with screaming, pulled-apart guitar behind lyrics of self-protection, the track climaxing in a crescendo and makes way for 'My Moons'. With handclaps, R&B bass and a settled and more secure form of lyrical misery suggests chart-troubling potential.
'You Are The Stars' (which may be the second Cosmos-related title) tells of another lover leaving Alex behind accompanied by a jangled rhythm. A prog-like guitar hijacks the ending, shocking hapless reviewers into attention.
The dreamy hallucinogenic cloud of 'In The Dark' hangs between planets then finally devolves into drunken keys and detuned strings. Good soundtrack stuff.
Chugging, indie-pop-alike 'Any Wonder' sounds like a single and 'How Do You Do It', with harmonized vocals pushed back in the mix and the echoed swirl of howling guitar, there's a appreciative nod to Sixties psych. Good.
Pop-click percussion and ringing guitar start off the winsome ballad of 'Things Are Fallin' and builds into a dreaming psych white-out. This album epic segues into the closing counsel-lullaby, 'Don't Be Afraid'.
This may be the first and last time on this album where Schaaf leaves his own head and extends his own fears and sensitivities to comfort a listener. Appropriately the last sound heard is Cosmos imploding into itself.

In summary, an album of light psych that doesn't leave your ears humming,  ideas and themes played out with real feeling and all skilfully engineered and delivered in a deliberate and coherent package. Sweet.

The album ‘Cosmos’ is already available in the US and is out 5th May 2014 in Europe on Barsuk Records.
Single 'Neon Fists’ will be readily-available on 28th April 2014 in Europe also on Barsuk Records.
Yellow Ostrich are on their first European tour in May starting in the UK on the 4th.

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