Release Date: Feb 25, 2014
Record label: Barsuk
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Pop
New York City-based Yellow Ostrich have grown over three albums from an adventurous and frenetic lo-fi indie rock band, to a sophisticated, often impressive experimental art rock band. Still centered around singer/songwriter Alex Schaff, Yellow Ostrich's third full-length-album, 2014's Cosmos, is an expansive and layered effort that showcases the band's ever maturing sound. Engineered by Beau Sorenson (Death Cab for Cutie, Sparklehorse) and mixed by Paul Kolderie (Radiohead, Dinosaur Jr.), Cosmos is the first album recorded by Yellow Ostrich since the departure of co-founding member Jon Natchez.
“I can feel you / running much too fast / the race is long / you’ll never last.” In print, the above Yellow Ostrich lyrics are a bit unsettling, made all the more unnerving in song by a honey coated harmony delivery. It’s fairly common in the indie world to come across songs with upbeat structures hiding depressing lyrics (see everything ever written by The Shins), but Yellow Ostrich play a much more disturbing game. They’re more in line with St.
Yellow Ostrich mastermind Alex Schaaf has come a long way since writing concept albums about Morgan Freeman. Although there is a certain charm that exists among albums that were recorded in a bedroom with a four-track recorder, it’s difficult to grow and mature as an artist if you remain in that zone. 2011’s studio album The Mistress saw Schaaf team up with Michael Trapper; and 2012’s Strange Land threw multi-instrumentalist Joe Natchez into the mix to create Yellow Ostrich’s first proper album as a full band.
There is an expansive, searching quality to the new Yellow Ostrich album, which is quite appropriate given that the record is named Cosmos and draws inspiration from the visionary work of Carl Sagan. After permanently moving in to the band’s cramped, windowless practice space, Alex Schaaf immersed himself in the work of astronomers like Sagan and Frank Drake, and let his creative thoughts and energies turn to the bewildering vastness of the universe expanding infinitely outside of his Brooklyn studio. The songs all suitably take on an exploratory, probing tone and texture — augmented by drummer Michael Tapper’s month-long sailing excursion from Mexico to Hawaii – with questions both great and small suggested by Schaaf’s penetrating lyrics and the simmering elegance of the quartet’s imaginative arrangements.
Yellow Ostrich Cosmos (Barsuk) Taking its name and inspiration from Carl Sagan's iconic PBS series, Cosmos finds frontman Alex Schaaf contemplating the profound wonders of the universe and his place in it. "I want to float on by," he repeats in "My Moons" amid a post-Kid A backdrop of lunar guitar blips. Of course, Schaaf's not the kind of guy wanting for a metaphor.