Opening for the Warlocks, the Orange County 4-piece-band Cosmonauts had already produced some noisy psychedelic soundscapes, driving the audience between an hybrid sound of the Velvet Underground and Thee Oh Sees. At the Bootleg theater on Saturday night, they gave us a very loud set of explosive guitars, giving me some borderline tinnitus afterward, and this was without mentioning their blonde funny drummer, who, while making clown faces all the time, was pounding on his drums like a happy primitive, driving the set on his own.
The punk energy in the music, the hammering beat, mixed with distant echoic-stoned vocals and druggy psychedelia were producing some surprising hypnotic numbers that John Dwyer would have made his in a second, and singer Derek Cowart, who was sharing the vocals with Alex Ahmadi, was even injecting these same excited little ‘whoos’ during the songs.
Buried inside the layers of reverb and psych-fuzz, the songs certainly had hooks and even 60s harmonies, à la Brian Jonestown Massacre (this is actually the first name I wrote when I heard the first song) or could it have been The Jesus and Mary Chain?
However, the song Motorcycle #1 – I didn't see a setlist but I recognized this song from their bandcamp page – reminded me something coming from the last Ceremony’s album, it was that punk, with a great hook, whereas other songs were different, either wandering into an endless drug-out-till-your-head-is-dizzy-in-a-haze party or into a devilish punk dance.
Cosmonauts have released their debut and self-titled album in June 2010 and their second LP ‘If You Wanna Die Then I Wanna Die’, on Burger Records, the same label that gave us a never ending list of garage rock bands such as Audacity, The Growlers, The Black Lips, Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall,…sometimes I wonder how many of these bands the music scene can endure, but seriously, Cosmonauts’ set was certainly a very good surprise, never boring and original despite the obvious influences, balancing between genres and tempos, and mostly keeping the pace on a fast and aggressive level. And according to their Facebook page they are about to embark for a European tour, exporting the psych-punk-drug Californian sound over the Atlantic!