Cosby: The Band, Not the Man [Review]

CosbyBeing that the band Cosby is largely an electronic indie pop group as well as children of the late 80s and early 90s, audiences may assume that this name was deliberately chosen for love of The Cosby Show. In fact, brothers Chip and Chris simply share a surname with Bill Cosby.

The “other” Cosbys grew up in Richmond, Virginia and after playing individually with other bands, finally joined forces in 2012. Blending Chris’ 80s-inspired keys, synths and vocals and Chip’s more rock-sounding guitar and vocals, the brothers teamed up with Mike Levinson on drums shortly after deciding to work together. The group put out its first album in the winter of 2013, called In Flight.

CosbyCosby was quickly lauded for In Flight, gaining a spot opening for Blues Traveler and a semi-finalist bid in the International Songwriting Competition for the single Light of Day. The self-produced full-length album has been compared to M83, St. Lucia and The Killers. Other influences that can be heard on the album are the Pet Shop Boys, Berlin and Catherine Wheel, just to name a few. It is quite a mixed bag of influences but it is safe to say there is a solid base of 80 synth pop and 90s guitar-heavy shoegazer rock in every Cosby song. The brothers blend these influences well on In Flight, and their growing fan base has been eagerly awaiting their next offering.

Heartracer is the newest single to come from the group since In Flight, and though it contains many of those core sounds which distinguish the group, it is also a bit of a departure. The single seems a bit more pop-heavy and upbeat, while the shoegazer dreaminess so prevalent in most of the tracks on In Flight takes a secondary role. A fairly strong new wave timbre also emerges in Heartracer, the closest comparison to which would be The Fixx’s Red Skies.

Lyrically, Heartracer is a bit bittersweet, as the words discuss the responsibility of being in love. The chorus, for example, is hopeful but concerned, as both brothers sing “If you go where I go; then you’ll fall when I fall.” It is a different sentiment than what is usually discussed in a pop song, but that is the unique rub with Cosby. They are able to strike a profound chord with audiences even when their music is more pop-tinged.

The Heartracer video, Cosby’s third in the short time since they have been working together, is a definitive nod to the 80s. The band performs on stage with Chris sporting a handheld keyboard and both brothers wearing neon glasses. The storyline of the video is of a “nerd” being sucked into an 80s arcade game and then winning a girl he sees at a bar via playing the game. The video is a fun compliment to the new single, as it is also hopeful yet cautious. With music and videos like Heartracer, Cosby will reach a broad audience as their discography grows.

Heartracer is a preview track in anticipation of Cosby’s next full-length album, due out sometime in 2015. Though it is a bit more pop than the tracks on In Flight, that is not to say the band is headed in that direction. In Flight is nothing if not diverse, with a number of instrumental tracks. Dream pop, shoegazer, indie rock and guitar rock all feature on the band’s first album, and fans can most likely expect the unexpected on the next album. The band seems keen to experiment and continue to evolve their sound. With the combined talents of the brothers Cosby and drummer Levinson, this group is poised to enjoy success on both the indie and pop stages. In Flight and Heartracer are available to stream and buy on Cosby’s Bandcamp page, listed in “Sources,” and can also be purchased on iTunes.

Review by Layla Klamt

Sources: (Heartracer) (In Flight)
Bio and Heartracer press release, Cosby provided by Independent Music Promitions

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