Independent release, 2009
REVIEW BY: Julia Skochko
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/31/2009
If you herded Mellow Down Easy’s influences into a trailer, it’d wind up popping a few rivets. You’d have the Allman Brothers and early-era Zep...Aerosmith and Cream...hell, maybe even The Replacements, assuming they weren’t too hungover.
You’d think that many influences would be chaotic, discordant – or at least liable to wind up whacking one another upside the head with tambourines. What holds it all together, ironically enough, is The Looseness. A potent new strain of pot? Nope, although the results are similar. Cosmisutra is laid-back, chilled-out, cool as a cucumber, relaxed as Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Mellow Down Easy’s musicianship is solid, their production slick. Their spirit, however, is pure backyard barbecue. While Cosmisutra’s chill-with-chops vibe is an occasional liability, it’s also breezily refreshing. Remember the Fourth of July parties of yore, when one’s “cool” uncle would pick up a Strat and fumble through an off-key rendition of “Freebird”? Imagine everyone’s surprise if that uncle was actually pretty damned good...and happened to bring along a few similarly-gifted drinking buddies. That’s Mellow Down Easy, and this album is their post-peach pie opus.
The majority of tracks are laid-back, gussied-up blues-rock. "I Am the Universe" is a relaxed hip-shaker with blissed-out, squawling guitars. “Love Money” is a grittier, less-geeky Rush, an ass-shaker no less intense for its leisurely pace and psychedelic organs. “Crazy & Wicked” melds a snappy snare beat with a slow, slinky blues tango. In evoking Cream’s “Strange Brew,” it also reminds us of the disc’s primary weakness: mellow is well and good, but rock’s got a harder edge as well. Next time, hopefully, MDE will employ a little more thrust and a little less sway. If “Pure Gold” and its zippy, gritty guitars and cat-in-heat caterwauling are any indicator, the results would absolutely kill.
Cosmisutra isn’t averse to darkness, either. “A Thousand Pages of Ugly Letters” is a softer, more somber version of Aerosmith’s “What It Takes” (were it sung by Mother Love Bone’s late, lamented Andy Wood). “Undergoing Resurrection” is a mournful little regrets-’n-Fender number spliced with a campfire jam sessions (sorrow! Sorrow! Maracas!). And “The Great Big Melancholy” is amorphous blues-country by way of Steely Dan. Sounds odd, but the results are smoky and haunting.
The Looseness is a powerful force, and Cosmisutra is a summery, mesquite-scented pleasure. If the boys can back up their melodies with some yowls and power chords, the Great Big Trailer O’ Killer Southern Rock Bands may need to accommodate a few more partiers.