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CD of The Week

Week of 4/04/22

    Mondo Cozmo - This is for the Barbarians (Last Gang)

    As the world attempts to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, Philly native Josh Ostrander, aka Mondo Cozmo, returns with a celebration of life, love, and togetherness in the form of This is for the Barbarians.

    The age of music inspired by and created during the pandemic continues. Over the past two years, we have all collectively felt some level of sadness, anger, frustration, hopelessness, and for some, loss. Always one to channel emotions into musical energy, Mondo Cozmo continues to tap into the collective consciousness and offer a bit of hope for the downtrodden.

    Barbarians opens with “Electrify My Love,” showcasing what he does best - grabbing attention with relatable lyrics set to music that lures you in. The first lyrics heard on the album are “Good evening everyone, I hope this finds you well.” Rather than sound like a poorly-worded corporate email, it instead invites you to reflect on your current situation by later continuing with “Be not full of fear, there is no darkness here.” Ostrander has mentioned that this song was the last to be written for the record, but was expressly written to be the album’s opener. The elongated intro is meant to be calming while the lyrics are reassuring and comforting.

    As the album continues we’re treated to an eclectic mix of songs. “Feel Good” is almost a call to action - it’s virtually impossible to sit perfectly still while it plays. Its placement on the album is a refreshingly perfect choice, coming immediately after “Electrify My Love,” uniting us and offering hope.

    “Meant for Livin’” begins to channel a bit of Bob Dylan with its fast-paced lyrics over an acoustic guitar. Taking inspiration from Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited, Ostrander uses a standard blues progression and adds his signature twangy vocals and modern indie rock influences.

    “I Wanna Live Like Everybody” is a short departure from the overall feel of the album. Showing his musical range and abilities, it blends synth melodies with drum machines to serve as a well-placed cry for normalcy and a sense of belonging.

    Barbarians continues to explore the topics of love and loss while addressing larger conflicts and calls for unity. Standout track “WW3” offers a chilling chorus with “When I was young I prayed for love, now I pray for a new world war. When I get old I hold my tongue and say farewell, for the end has come.” Chillingly timed, this song fits well at the current global political climate. “Eyes of Love” perfectly channels the raw emotion of dealing with losing a loved one. “’Cause I would like to rest in the arms of your love, and I would like to dream like I dreamt when I was young. And I would like to be in the presence of the gods, to tell them I forgive them for taking you too soon.” Here, Ostrander reminds us that grief ends with acceptance while acknowledging that the journey can be troublesome.

    In an era seemingly full of bleak times, This is for the Barbarians immediately finds its well-deserved home. It acknowledges the stress and frustration of the past two years without patronizing us or repeating the same talking points we’ve all heard time and time again. It offers hope and relief and reminds us that it’s ok to feel pain in the face of adversity.

    Mondo Cozmo will return home to Philadelphia to open for The Airborne Toxic Event this Thursday and Friday, April 7th and 8th at The TLA.
    Review by Dan Baker

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