Band – Cosmo’s Elephant
Album / Label – Room Full of Sky / Unsigned
Rating – 3.5 / 5
What’s in a name? Sitting down with Cosmo’s Elephant, I was quite curious as to who Cosmo might have been, and what the story was about his elephant.
I soon found out that the origin behind the band name was as complex as the members that made up the group. As a matter of fact, all four of them gave me different tales to what it actually meant.
Drummer David Huff (aka Mr Peanutbutter) conceded that for the first few months they spent together as a band, he actually thought that “Cosmo’s” was spelled without an apostrophe, and that the name stood for an “elephant of the cosmos”. Guitarist/vocalist Josh Oswald says that the band name exists only as a framework into questioning things, such as who, or what, or why Cosmo’s Elephant. Bassist Daniel Sherwood finally admitted to me that the name literally popped into his head while driving to an early rehearsal, and that everyone in the group agreed that it was a pretty cool name.
“Sometimes, things just come together like that,” adds Amy Kies, who plays violin, keyboards and percussion while also singing, “and it’s really the best part about getting the four of us together. We throw out so many crazy ideas, and some of them actually end up sticking and being excellent!”
As far as the origin of the band, Huff and Oswald were initially playing together in 2015 when Jill-of-all-trades Kies placed an ad on Craigslist looking for a drummer to back her solo work. The trio got together, and after trying out their first bassist came across Sherwood on Craigslist, as well. The four immediately meshed not only on a musical level, but on a personal level as well.
“I don’t mean for anyone to take this in another other way, but the bond in Cosmo’s Elephant… these guys are literally my brothers,” explains Kies. “I know I speak for everyone in the band when I say we love each other in a way that goes deeper than just friendship or music.”
It’s an interesting statement to be made from a quartet of individuals who play in separate bands to boot. Oswald plays drums for the incomparable psych-rock outfit Brujas del Sol, Kies is a one half of the duo Javelina, and Sherwood fronts Coal Fired Bicycle as well as being in Push Me Pull You.
With all these revolving musical ideas, I wondered how Cosmo’s fit into their routines, and whether they ever felt like it was something of a side project as opposed to a primary ambition. Huff had an interesting take on how things come together.
“To me, this band is like therapy… just a bunch of really good friends getting things out and letting them go. The band exists on a level where we can be ridiculous for the sole purpose of keeping each other sane.”
“I don’t ever think of the band as a secondary group to anything we do,” added Kies.
But what about writing? It can be difficult to differentiate between musical projects if you have more than one unique thing going for yourself. Being in three different groups, Sherwood had a perfect response.
“The way we write is very interesting. It often amounts to what I’d call a cacophony of excess. It can be a very disjointed process that can come together at a glacial pace, but if we didn’t do it in this way, it really wouldn’t be Cosmo’s Elephant.”
The songwriting may have come together slowly, but the band has five songs recorded and ready for the masses. The EP, titled Room Full of Sky, is poised for release this Friday, and the band graciously invited me to Sherwood’s Columbus studio, Big Basement in the Sky, to preview the tracks.
The record kicks off with El Diablo Positivo, which immediately features a ton of Kies’ violin, almost to the level of groups like Blue October or even Yellowcard. The bass guitar jumps around and you absolutely feel the production that the group placed on Huff’s drumming. Everything about the song is exceptionally tight, from the thundering bass and toms to the sharply accented guitar pieces sprinkled in.
The song title comes from the line, “I’m hearing this devil speaking to me/but I’mma fight him off with some positivity.” I felt like this was a fantastically fun song for the band, but Sherwood said that the song sticks out on the EP, “like a dick in the bathtub.”
“Songwriting is such a broken process for us, but like I said, that’s what makes us Cosmo’s Elephant. It wouldn’t be right if it hadn’t been such a fractured process.”
Up next is Baa Baa Black Metal, a song that slows down and feels like what a New Politics song would be with less synths and more violin. Huff’s drumming is again on point (as it is throughout the entire EP), while Sherwood says that it’s a special song for him and is especially tied to the studio, as it was the first piece of music that was ever recorded there. The song showcases Oswald’s guitar licks more than any other on the record, but the band insists that it’s not on purpose.
“In fact, we were trying to work out all of the bad juju on that song,” says Sherwood. “We had had so many issues recording guitar pieces, and they’re supposed to be the easiest thing to put together on a record!”
“I write all of my guitar parts from a singer/songwriter perspective, but I feel as though they are more rhythm than lead for Cosmo’s,” adds Oswald.
The third track, The Beginning of the Ocean is an instrumental build-up to track four, aptly titled The End of the Ocean. Kies sings lead on this song, which lyrically encompasses the struggles of addiction. It is definitely the most emotional song on the record, with jagged guitar fills and a pounding back-beat. It’s a song that could hypothetically have a dozen different musicians on it, but in the end you would still be mesmerized by the power of Kies’ voice and her emotional wails.
Finally, we have the title track Room Full Of Sky. All four members agree that this song more than any other defines Cosmo’s Elephant, or at least where the band is evolving. The song features a glorious combination of Kies’ violin and guest musician Bob Ray Starker’s saxophone, as well as a dynamic male-female harmony from Oswald and Kies. Starker’s sax punctuates the final moments of the song, before a few final piano notes lay the EP to rest.
Each song on the record plays into the next, as if it were performed in a live setting without breaks. On all but the title track, the band members expressed to me that the song in question was actually written for a different project, making it a unique featurette of pseudo B-sides that end up being their own singles. You can tell that the band has worked hard to put their craft together in an idiosyncratic way that uniquely highlights each of their distinctive personalities. The more I listen to it, the more fun I have with it, and I’m almost positive that that is what the band had in mind in putting it all together.
They are set to release Room Full Of Sky on September 29 at Victory’s Live, with support from Sean Marshall and Cleveland’s John Patrick and the Outside Voices. It’s a free show, and the band promised to make it interesting.
I believe you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you missed out on this one!
- El Diablo Positivo
- Baa Baa Black Metal
- The Beginning of an Ocean
- The End of an Ocean
- Room Full Of Sky
Cosmo’s Elephant – The End Of The Ocean