Cosmonauts - Star 69 (2019)

If you mention Cosmonauts in most LA or Orange County circles, nods of recognition will ensue, followed by a proud reference to someone’s friend doing a stint in the band, and several enthusiastic adolescent memories of shows gone by. A longstanding project of core members Alexander Ahmadi and Derek Cowart, Cosmonauts sit as one of the acts most strongly — and deservedly — associated with the boom of local label Burger Records. At 10 years, and countless shows in, Cosmonauts have solidified their status as both indie touchstone and hometown heroes, a source of cultural pride amongst suburban-bred kids who watched them make the scene.

Psych, punk, shoegaze, and always something else, the Cosmonauts sound is Spaceman 3, Brian Jonestown Massacre, Jesus and Mary Chain through a 75-and-sunny, strip-mall lens–it’s UK by way of So-Cal, the lucid lyrics and heat-shimmer guitars so indicative of the now-familiar sound they created. Star 69 finds them at the height of those powers, the trip or two around the block injecting the album with a confidence and completeness that gives tossed-off lines like “I wish I was high or dead, or something” (the gorgeous and unexpected “Heart Of Texas”) a kind of hungover, squinty-eyed poetry. Everything from almost-love songs (“The Gold Line”) and odes to untimely death (“Suburban Hearts”) are given the usual yawn and stretch treatment–a deceptive casualness that underpins the level-up songwriting and intricate musicality of the band’s strongest effort yet.