WXPN 88.5 Welcomes…
Mondo Cozmo at Union Transfer
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In December 2016, a man and his rescue dog drove out to Joshua Tree in the Southern California Desert.
Armed with a guitar and “an old 10-year-old laptop,” this mohawked troubadour spent two weeks screaming into a microphone at two in the morning and bleeding all over the guitar strings in between walking his dog under the cool arid night sky and barely sleeping at the “weird house” he rented.
That man was Mondo Cozmo (the dog just goes by Cozmo, and he may have some wolf and raccoon in his DNA). They left the desert with the artist’s 2017 full-length debut, Plastic Soul [Republic Records], in tow.
Let’s rewind to what got our hero to this point…
“When ‘Shine’ was about to hit #1 on AAA radio, the label called me and said, ‘Can you turn in a full-length album?’,” he recalls. “I was like, ‘Awesome, yes!’ They asked, ‘Can you do it in two weeks?’ I said, ‘Maybe’,” he laughs.
Everything changed for Mondo Cozmo in 2016. Born in Philadelphia and now based in East Los Angeles, he quit his two landscaping jobs, raised a big middle finger to all opposition, and began releasing songs that could’ve been cut under the influence of a “Champagne Supernova” inside a Seattle warehouse if this were the nineties…but it’s not. A disciple of Beck, Eddie Vedder, and Keith Richards, the song “Shine” introduced this tattooed underground pop outlier to audiences at large.
Not only did “Shine” break at multiple radio formats, but it racked up millions of Spotify streams with NPR hailing it among “Songs Public Radio Can’t Stop Playing in 2016.” He shot a heart-wrenching video for “Hold On To Me” with Anna Faris at a senior citizens home (Faris’s husband Chris Pratt told him not to sign a deal). He sold out the Troubadour in Los Angeles in under five days followed by sell outs in New York and Philadelphia.In fact, every headlining show he has played he has sold out. He lit up 10 shows at SXSW 2017—“Whatever butt booked those like that was trying to kill me.” He joined Bastille on their arena tour—“It’s unbelievable. I wouldn’t even be able to afford tickets to this darn thing if I wasn’t playing.” He made his late-night television debut on Jimmy Kimmel LIVE! backed by a full choir, and he landed acclaim from Entertainment Weekly, Consequence of Sound, Clash, The Line Of Best Bit, and more.
However, Mondo Cozmo remains Mondo Cozmo. Punk as heck to the core, he did things like give away three hundred shirts for free one night because the merch company messed up and the name was spelled wrong. He distributed a demo version of the album’s title track “Plastic Soul” by encouraging fans on Instagram to email his lawyer at [email protected]
He started a hotline 1-866-MONDO-COZMO at which Kimmel even left a message.
He did it all by deconstructing everything you know and reconstructing it with a rawness the world hasn’t felt since Pearl Jam’s Vs. or Springsteen’s Born To Run. That’s Plastic Soul.
“I went into the studio after releasing a couple of singles,” he goes on. “I had laser focus. I gauged what people were reacting to. I didn’t want to just make a record and hope it went well. I knew exactly what I was going to make. That’s how it came together in two weeks. Those first songs were written when I was in a dark place. There’s always been a little bit of hope though—constantly looking into the future that things will be different.”
About the new songs, he reveals:
“Automatic”: “It’s a big darn tune. I think it’s going to take over the world. It was all stream-of-consciousness.”
“River”: “It’s almost like a Beck falsetto moment. There’s no guitar just weird organ and dumb drum beats.”
“Come With Me”: “It’s probably my favorite vocal pass.”
Plastic Soul is Mondo Cozmo.
It’s painful. It’s pissed-off. It’s poetic. It’s passionate. It’s powerful.
“I hope people feel alive when they hear the record,” he leaves off. “That’s it. Ultimately, I don’t know where this thing is going, but it’s going to Virginia tonight…”
When the brotherhood of Flagship gathers together to innovate more of their intricate, ethereal diacoustics, it’s a virtually effortless endeavor. Their sound is visionary and vivid, much like the minds and hearts behind the instruments. The band is made up of Drake Margolnick and Michael Finster. Hailing from Charlotte, NC. Their new EP «Faded» is out now on Bright Antenna Records.
It’s 2016 and Bucks County (PA) natives, Illinois, continue to share their vast genre-spanning, part indie-folk rock, part pop-rock music. A style that when it all comes together Illinois label it as “suburban soul music”. Last December saw Illinois’ release of ‘Summer EP’ a follow-up to their early 2015 full-length release ‘Shine’.
Illinois was formed in 2004 when childhood friends Chris Archibald (singer-songwriter, guitar, banjo, keys), Martin Hoeger (bass, vocals), and JohnPaul Kuyper (drums) got together to play and showcase Archibald’s prolific song catalog. With time came several lineup changes over the years but Archibald, Hoeger and Kuyper remain as the founding members with the seemingly permanent addition of Jason Buzolits (synthesizer, guitar, vocals), Matt Thieroff (guitar, percussions), and the return of Andrew Lee (guitar, vocals) giving the band cohesion and constructing Illinois’ live performances with an impermeable wall of sound.
“Combining their trademark jangle with a renewed sense of urgency and electronic flourishes, Shine is 3 years in the making and worth the wait.” – Philly.com (Kate Bracaglia)
“Very few bands are equally comfortable with a banjo and a beat box as Illinois, …stylistic schizophrenia…”— SPIN (Peter Gaston)
The band released their first EP ‘Revenge of Some Kid’ in 2006 and it caused quite a buzz in the industry. After signing with Ace Fu the band released the EP ‘What The Hell Do I Know’ to critical acclaim. Ace Fu and Illinois followed that release up with a single “We Were Wrong” in 2008. As the industry crumbled so did many labels including Ace Fu. Illinois found a home at +1 Records and set to release their first LP ‘The Adventures of Kid Catastrophe’ in 2009. It was an auspicious effort that started with digital downloads of 3 songs released in monthly chapters and a short movie accompanied each chapter. After the six-month long affair all the chapters came together for the full release. In 2011 Illinois self-released their fourth album ‘Lemonade Stand’ a retrospective album featuring several demos from the hundreds written from 2004 to 2010.
The new year kicks off with more shows allowing Illinois to be in the live music world where they thrive. As Illinois explains it “with everything the industry is going through there is really no reason to give up control of our art. There is really no telling where Illinois will go next, we just know—we can’t stop.”
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Philadelphia, PA, 19123