“The Bitterness of Men” by Cosmic Charley, is the brand new concept album that follows Charley as he leaves for war and struggles with the aftermath that follows. The album comes with a short booklet with lyrics in novel form to read along.
Right out of the gate Nathan Kunkel’s lyrics are deep, penetrating, and refreshing. I feel that this is the truest and most accomplished sound Cosmic Charley has accomplished. This is an artist who can’t stop growing, and this album is just a mesmerizing relic of his artistic development: a beautiful, but stirring composition that belongs in every music lover’s collection. These songs abound with psychedelic hooks and grooves and lovely harmonies – floating, soaring and moving the spirits.
A definite change from Charley’s self-titled EP, “The Bitterness of Men” is a refreshing new look at Nathan Kunkel’s creative genius. All songs were written by Nathan, except “In This City” which was written by Steven Foord. In the beginning I doubted this album. However I have come to realize that this is Cosmic Charley’s best work by far. Listen closely, fans of any rock genre, because this is going to rock your world.
This consists of eleven tracks that tread the line between psychedelic and space rock, each seductive and downright groovy. The first thing you’ll notice is lead singer Nathan Kunkel’s uncanny ability to channel his vocal style deep within the music. Track after track, you soon begin to realize that his voice is utilized like an organic instrument, weaving its way through the lush instrumentation and the wall-of-sound psychedelia. However, there is something more happening with this album that constantly evolves and takes shape right up until the last track. It is important to listen to this album as a whole as it is more or less devoid of bubble-gum sweetness that is required in the temperamental singles market. Allowing it to unfold naturally is the key to noticing its intricacies. It’s a concept album, in every sense of the word.
I will not dissect “The Bitterness of Men” track by track, as it certainly is not the type of album that deserves similar treatment. Would you divide a novel, chapter by chapter, to evaluate its overall greatness? Suffice to say, that to hear an album of tracks which shine with the finest attributes of classic psychedelic rock sound, without regurgitating them, yet with its own distinct sonic identity and a coherence throughout the whole album is an experience you’re not likely to have any time soon.
If I had to mention tracks that seemed to capture my ear quicker than others, they would be, “Get This Far”, “Frozen Rain”, “In This City” and “Want”. All-round though, the musicianship is top-rate without being pretentious, with a lushness to it that will put you in a trance.
More About Cosmic Charley: Nathan writes and records the songs in his studio/garage when not working or being a dad. For live performances he enlists Thomas Bird and Tony Arsenault for a truly energetic show that has earned them a solid fan base. Cosmic Charley (named after a Grateful Dead song) have always been known for catchy driving rock, a touch of funk, psych, and plenty of groove. A guitar player from the West, a drummer from the East, and a bass player from somewhere down the middle, Cosmic Charley is proud to call Canada their home.