When former Apollo Sunshine member Sam Cohen played the Calvin Theatre in January, he previewed several songs from his group Yellowbirds’ yet-to-be-released second album for the audience in attendance. Though performed live with only Cohen on electric guitar and Guster multi-instrumentalist Luke Reynolds on acoustic guitar, the new material sounded charming and full of promise.
Now, heard here in their fully-realized and recorded form, the same tracks appear blown wide open into Technicolor daydreams. “Mean Maybe” glides along with bouncing bass, gracefully distorted guitar and softly played percussion, while “Love Stories” features endearing harmonies and ambient noise textures.
Mining much of the same ‘60s style pop terrain first explored by his former band, Cohen frequently wraps his vocals around ingratiating melodies that conjure thoughts of a summer day or the soundtrack to a classic rock ‘n’ roll romp.
Watch the video for “Mean Maybe” by Yellowbirds here:
When asked by Rolling Stone magazine what writing for the record was like, the singer described the evolution he's gone through since Yellowbirds made its first recordings.
"Writing for that record was very much about finding a sound that I was into, and with this one, I think I had a clear sense of what the aesthetic of this band is," Cohen said. "It was a gradual process. When it very first began, it was just making recordings in my apartment. I didn't have a band name, wasn't playing live, didn't have a group; it could be anything, and it was pretty disparate stuff."
One word of warning, with a running time of less than 35 minutes, Song From the Vanished Frontier is like a bittersweet cat nap - pleasant while it lasts, but over much too soon. Repeated plays are a must.