28 Feb 2016
Coo Coo Birds - Dark White
Reviewed by John Knoernschild
Guitarist Jonny “Cat” Shaheri, drummer Ryan Zweng, bassist Gray Tolhurst, and guitarist Joshua Cook combine their powers as Coo Coo Birds, a psychedelic rock band based in San Francisco, California. The vision for the band started in The Golden Gate Park with Ryan Zweng and Jonny Cat jamming out. After some sort of spiritual revelation in Paris, Zweng contacted Jonny “Cat” Shaheri and the band was born. For this latest album, Johnny and Ryan invited along Gray Tolhurst and Joshua Cook to join in the psychedelic fun. "Dark White" delivers said fun in spades.
"Soulless World" kicks the album off with a driving force reminiscent of Wooden Shjips. The simple drums seem to fit the track perfectly, leaving out cymbal crashes for the soft chink of a tambourine. Far off vocals echo in the background, fading in and out of existence like slow moving waves. The backwards guitars at the end had me closing my eyes and picturing whatever the sound waves sent into my brain. "Stay" starts off with a soft new-age folk feeling, then hits you in the face with a funky bass line and Spanish guitar riff. I feel like they're telling the story of a lost love here, or more so, a spouse, someone they wish they had made more of an effort to keep as part of their lives. It’s a song I’m sure anyone that’s lost a love can relate to. Bringing your spirits back up is the reverb laden, psychedelic flowing "Rose Windows", a beautiful song with twangy guitars and thumping bass, leading the way to soft vocals that warm the heart. "I Want You" is just damned amazing psychedelic rock. With the same feeling as "Just Dropped In" by the First Edition, it brings me back to days of eating elicit substances and sequestering myself in a dark room filled with trippy music. Surf rock swells throughout the song, while dual guitars bounce back and forth in your head. The surf sound continues in "Bang A Booker", picking up its punky cousin. Looks like all you have to do to get a new guitar is find a venue, get your grove on with the booker, take her back to your place and bam, you’ve got a new guitar! You can pay your rent now too! "Baba" continues the driving force from "Soulless World", while creating a much lighter sound. Crunchy bass paired with acoustic sounds pleases the ears. Crunchy beauty, yeah, that’s what we’ll call it. Soft in the center, hard on the outside, how many licks will it take to……oh wait, that’s something else. Hitting you in the face and bringing you back wanting more, "Love Is Sold" crosses the line into heavy psychedelic rock. The screaming lead guitar worms its wayinto your head, the bass thumping in your chest, bleeding out into the desert sun. I picture a vast landscape in Utah, dust weeds blowing over hot, red sand, riding out into the desert to find your lost love. Salome brings in slide guitar, with a sitar effect. I must say, it’s very unique and quite splendid. I can’t really explain the sound of this song, but it’s a must listen! "Elvira" is a short, Beatlesque song, a beautiful piece that I wish was longer. It’s one of those songs you play a few times before moving on. Coo Coo Birds shift their sound for the end of this wonderful album. "Caffeine and Ketamine" feels like a song strait out of the 60s. It immediately reminded me of Buffalo Springfield. The calming vibe of this song is just what you need to relax from a stressful day. Have yourself a good time……Caffeine and Ketamine. The trippy sitar sound comes back in "She Comes to Me in Visions" taking you on a psychedelic journey. The multiple vocal parts build and build, dripping through the speakers, coming alive in your head. Coo Coo Birds really ends the album well here. Simply close your eyes for this one and enjoy the ride.
"Dark White" is one of the best psychedelic rock albums to come across my desk in quite some time. While the sound from track to track tends to differ, it still retains the core sound of what I think Coo Coo Birds is trying to achieve. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this album to anyone. Head to their bandcamp page and get yourself a copy - it's a name your price / free download!