Yellowbirds: The Color

This appropriately titled The Color is the debut album of Yellowbirds, the first “solo” effort by singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Sam Cohen (Apollo Sunshine).


The Color

Contributor: Sam Cohen
Label: Royal Potato Family
US Release Date: 2011-02-15
UK Release Date: 2011-02-15
Artist Website

Once upon a time, there was a wonderland of rippling glissandos and chromatic runs, a far away place that solely exists in the space between speakers and consciousness. This Shangri-la, appropriately titled The Color is the debut album of Yellowbirds, the first “solo” effort by singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Sam Cohen (Apollo Sunshine)

With help from some friends, Cohen orchestrates a sonic dreamland of surreal musicality and illustrative existential reasoning. The album was inspired by Cohen’s nostalgia for his Texas roots, crossed with contemporary industrial wonders of his current home New York City. In turn, The Color is a collage of cool, calm and collected psychedelic folk rock, paired with dream pop and varnished with a southern croon. At times, it even reflects 1950’s country and western music encased in a splendor of Technicolor bliss.

The Color opens with Yellowbirds’ first single “The Rest of My Life”, a song of eerie proportions cut with rays of light, cool vocals and a pensive chorus line. It begins with dim ambient sounds, like dripping stalactites in a cave of synthesized mediation. Slowly, drums and keyboards build towards Cohen’s open, intimate reflections on life. Paced by rich layers of glistening contemplation, the song hits the chorus, where Cohen calmly sings, “trying hard not to think about…anything”, true feelings of a restless mind. This mantra is answered by a series of instrumental builds, each brighter and more spectacular than the next, triumphing in a mental breakthrough towards tranquility.

The album seamlessly eases into “Rings in the Trees”, a dreamy landscape decorated with reverberating auto harp and a steady beat. The song’s sensation is similar to gazing out a window on a long car ride, where scenery abstracts, triples and spins as it flies past the window. Cohen’s vocals drift alongside billowing harmonies in a slide guitar breeze as the song’s scenery flies by.

Deeper into The Color, the music abruptly shifts from daydreams to memories in the key of AM radio rock 'n roll on “Our Good Days Are Gone”. The tune hits with a full drum set pow, buoyant bass and a Roy Orbison croon. Suddenly, in walks lively organ licks that sound akin to Ray Manzarek, only to surrender to two separate overpowering distorted guitar solos. “Our Good Days Are Gone” moves like surfing the radio dial on a solid day of good tunes joined by static-y reception.

The Color is a cohesive aural experience of vibrant hues and layers of textures. It is as complicated as it is simple: the album takes a step back from the pressures of the world, breathes and thinks. Each song travels through dimensions of imagination, confiding deep thoughts in musical details. These details may challenge the listener as well as comfort and inspire. Through it all, Yellowbirds has created music one can feel and contemplate -- listening is like riding on a rainbow, wondering what's next.






PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.


David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.


David Lord Salutes Collaborators With "Cloud Ear" (premiere)

David Lord teams with Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground) for a new collection of sweeping, frequently meditative compositions. The results are jazz for a still-distant future that's still rooted in tradition.


Laraaji Takes a "Quiet Journey" (premiere +interview)

Afro Transcendentalist Laraaji prepares his second album of 2020, the meditative Moon Piano, recorded inside a Brooklyn church. The record is an example of what the artist refers to as "pulling music from the sky".


Blues' Johnny Ray Daniels Sings About "Somewhere to Lay My Head" (premiere)

Johnny Ray Daniels' "Somewhere to Lay My Head" is from new compilation that's a companion to a book detailing the work of artist/musician/folklorist Freeman Vines. Vines chronicles racism and injustice via his work.


The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.


Landowner's 'Consultant' Is OCD-Post-Punk With Obsessive Precision

Landowner's Consultant has all the energy of a punk-rock record but none of the distorted power chords.


NYFF: 'American Utopia' Sets a Glorious Tone for Our Difficult Times

Spike Lee's crisp concert film of David Byrne's Broadway show, American Utopia, embraces the hopes and anxieties of the present moment.


South Africa's Phelimuncasi Thrill with Their Gqom Beats on '2013-2019'

A new Phelimuncasi anthology from Nyege Nyege Tapes introduces listeners to gqom and the dancefloors of Durban, South Africa.


Wolf Parade's 'Apologies to the Queen Mary' Turns 15

Wolf Parade's debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary, is an indie rock classic. It's a testament to how creative, vital, and exciting the indie rock scene felt in the 2000s.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.


Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.


Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.


Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.


Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.


Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.