Kenneth Frost-Dave North-Eric Ross-Cole Koenning
This Austin, Texas based band isn’t wasting their youth, nor are they jettisoning the hallmarks of the greats who came before them. On the contrary, these four young men draw liberally from the deep well of vintage pop, heady psychedelic rock, sizzling hot funk, and even a bit of old-fashioned blues to create music that is at once classic yet forward thinking. Classic Rock Magazine rightly christened their psychedelic garage rock “spectacular,” declaring the band “hip young dudes who mine the late sixties acid rock scene for inspiration, but sound so authentic you’ll think you’re having a flashback.”
From Magical Mystery Tour to The Doors, from Velvet Underground to Jimi Hendrix, The Cuckoos roots run deep. Within the band’s swirling, trippy songs, there’s the magical alchemy of Pink Floyd, the stoic enigmatic melancholy of Joy Division, and the epic scope of Led Zeppelin. It’s all super-charged with the gritty energy of Nirvana at their most energetic. At times, one can almost feel the heat of Jimi Hendrix’s burning guitar, as the sonic vibes transport the audience to uncharted funky and jazzy dimensions. It’s all viewed through The Cuckoos young and constantly inspired lens, giving it a fresh feel.
“New Sunrise” offers a great picture of the multiple textures The Cuckoos explore. It’s a bit of a breezy meditation on the post-party picture, the feeling of waking up after a long night of revelry to confront the bright open sky. Toward the end, there’s the heartbreak of a relationship gone wrong, and the promise that a “New Sunrise” brings.
“A Little Bit Funky” is exactly as described: a rock n’ roll song, to be sure, but with a tasteful amount of groove. It’s danceable, romantic, and joyous, like a Stevie Wonder song about new love, in stark contrast to the darker vibes The Cuckoos often conjure. A broken guitar pedal helps capture a moment of explosive intensity in the solo. North says that live, “It’s such an exciting song, I almost have to just let the tune play itself.”
The extended jam section in “Mind Breakthrough” offers a chance for discovery each time it’s rendered, with Ross and Koenning locking into trance-like steadiness that truly demonstrates their ability to maintain a strong foundation, even as a song threatens to destroy itself. Like the band itself, the song has continued to evolve. It boasts a bit of the spiritual shamanism of early Neil Young, in a hazy cloud of personal exploration.
Imagine The Doors, Joy Division, and Rick James writing songs with Tame Impala to begin to get the picture, but be aware, The Cuckoos are carving their own path, hungry to become more than the sum total of the music that has inspired them and to diligently add new elements that will inspire others. Art, after all, should be communal.
- Ryan J. Downey
The Cuckoos’s tracks