Top 5 Must-See Phoenix Shows This Week
Three chords good, two chords better, one chord best -- Spacemen 3's psychonaut Sonic Boom said it, and Orange County's Cosmonauts live it. They'll take the simplest things you can build a band out of -- amps ratcheted up high enough the vacuum tubes start to sizzle, tangled-up melodies that could go on forever -- and ride them to the horizon line, chasing the purity of sound and intent that fans of 13th Floor Elevators liner notes know well. No gimmicks, no tricks, not even any shortcut pedals.
"I hate when bands use pedals or other types of equipment as a fallback," says guitarist/vocalist Alex Ahmadi. "So many bands just hit a delay pedal, and -- boom! -- it becomes some psych bullshit."
So Cosmonauts eradicate the bullshit. Ahmadi started the band two years ago with fellow guitarist/vocalist Derek Cowart, pursuing a rumor that Cowart liked the Brian Jonestown Massacre. With their only shared musical experience together totaling out to the time Ahmadi saw Cowart play acoustic guitar at a house party, they decided to make a band -- and a pretty loud one at that. Their first show was on Halloween, and they showed up with incomplete costumes. "I was supposed to be a bandito, but I didn't have a sombrero," says Ahmadi. "Derek was a Beatle. Our costumes sucked."
Happily, the actual band didn't suck at all. Their 2010 tape on Burger Records (with the elephant on it!) reverberates at the slightest touch, but beneath all the exhilarating clatter is the same sense for a catchy hook the Reid brothers in the Jesus and Mary Chain used so well. That tape's vinyl rerelease on esteemed semi-local label Permanent underscored the point: Cosmonauts are a pop band at heart, but a psychedelic band by sound. -- Chris Ziegler