Words by Russell Carstens
He cut his teeth with Apollo Sunshine, stretched his wings with Yellowbirds, and now Sam Cohen makes his solo debut with the fun, kaleidoscopic record, Cool It. The clearly talented songwriter recorded most of the instrumentation himself, with a bit of help from his friends in Yellowbirds.
“Let The Mountain Come To You” introduces Cohen’s first solo endeavor with a swirly and childlike intro. His approach is very creative — you can practically see a rainbow coming out of your speakers. The guitar solo hits the spot with a deliberate choice of notes. Seeming to be very observant of the world around him, Cohen’s lyrics appear somewhat philosophical, without being pseudo-intellectual — he doesn’t take himself too seriously, which is part of the fun.
The acoustic “Pretty Lights” is treated with a Leonard Cohen-like vocal reverb, sounding like the music a bunch of as-yet-undiscovered sea creatures might make. On “The Garden,” Cohen is “waiting for the rain.” With a seriously 1995 Britpop feel, this song conjures images of English gardens on grey, dreary days, featuring another fine guitar solo.
The slightly sad and reflective “Unconditional Love” finds Cohen asking, “Will I always feel this way? / Is this gonna last forever? Is this what they call unconditional love?” It sounds like the kind of hook you’d hear in your mind while under the influence, immediately knowing it’s good.
“Last Dream” is a slice of sixties psych rock that sounds like music you’d expect from a resident of sunny L.A. rather than Brooklyn. Pieces of “Kepler 62” will make you think Neil Young’s Harvest is being covered by extraterrestrials. An echo-heavy slide solo in the vein of George Harrison and Jerry Garcia glides over “A Farewell To Arms,” while Cohen goes way out there on “Midnight Conqueror” as the sun sets on some distant planet. The sparse, slow and steady closer “El Dorado” leaves you feeling haunted when a space-blues guitar solo (backed up by organ) creeps in.
The layered and deep production makes Cool It a colorful aural treat. It’s an excellent album, suitable for fans of Ween, Beck and just about anything mind-bending.
© April 28th, 2015
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