Samuel Benjamin Cohen is an American rock vocalist, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, artist, and producer based in Brooklyn, New York. A founding member of the psychedelic rock and pop band Apollo Sunshine, he released several albums with the group in the early 2000s. In 2009 he formed the solo project Yellowbirds, releasing the debut album The Color in 2011. This release was followed by Songs from the Vanished Frontier in 2013. The first Sam Cohen record, Cool It, will be out April 28, 2015 on Easy Sound Records, and will primarily feature Cohen playing all of the instruments. He released the first preview from the album, “Kepler 62,” in November 2014 on Stereogum. He is also known for his original collages on the Yellowbirds album covers, and his collage animation videos.
Samuel Benjamin Cohen was born and raised in Houston, Texas. He left Texas for Boston to attend college, meeting one of his future bandmates in 1997, where they were attending a Berklee College of Music summer performance program. While in school he began focusing on audio engineering and record production.
He formed the psychedelic rock group Apollo Sunshine with Jesse Gallagher and Jeremy Black in 2001. The band released their first album, Katonah, in October 2003 on spinART Records. The album was recorded in Katonah, New York in a barn which the band converted into a studio. It was well-received, earning 4/5 stars from Allmusic and 7.2/10 from Pitchfork Media. About their sound on the album The New York Times wrote that "bouncy 60's-style melodies crack wide open, breaking into outbursts of pummeling and feedback before jumping back into the tune. It's all neatly and cleverly plotted, but with a looming chaos that's anything but nostalgic." While also touring with the band, Cohen continued to collaborate in studio with other artists.
Shall Noise Upon is the 2008 album by Apollo Sunshine. It was released on vinyl and digital download on August 5, 2008. The record was recorded during the summer of 2007 in the Catskill Mountains, in a "house inhabited by spirits" and located next door to the home of the original Uncle Sam. The album includes Edan, and White Flight as guests. For the album the band received their highest score yet from Pitchfork Media, with 8.0/10. Allmusic gave it 3.5/5. The opening track, "Breeze", was featured near the end of the film Whip It, and appears on the movie soundtrack. The song "We Are Born When We Die", appeared on the TV show Breaking Bad, during the 12th episode of the fourth season.
The band Yellowbirds was first formed in 2009 by Cohen as a solo project, shortly after the dissolution of Apollo Sunshine. Cohen began recording new music in his own bedroom studio. With the assistance of friends on several tracks, he released several singles in 2010. In February 2011 he released his debut album The Color as Yellowbirds, on Brooklyn indie label Royal Potato Family. It was well-received by the majority of critics, with Ultimate Guitar calling the guitar work "magnificent." Early members included George Lewis Jr on bass (leader of Twin Shadow), Wynne Bennett on keys (also Twin Shadow), Max Koepke on rhythm guitar and autoharp (Self Righteous Brothers) and Brian Geltner on drums. Later on, Cohen, drummer Brian Kantor, multi-instrumentalist Josh Kaufman, and bassist Annie Nero made up a new lineup which remained consistent until disbanding in 2014.
In 2012 Cohen began writing songs for the band's sophomore album Songs from the Vanished Frontier, primarily writing on acoustic guitar. Released on May 5, 2013, it was also well-received by critics, with Allmusic giving it 4/5 stars. Eric Danton of Rolling Stone gave it a positive review, writing that "the new songs have a hazy summertime feel on arrangements that surround Cohen's reverb-soaked vocals with jangling guitars, propulsive basslines and lush string charts." After playing a number of performances in the summer and fall of 2014, in locations such as Prospect Park in Brooklyn, Yellowbirds played their final show on November 1, 2014, at the Brooklyn venue Baby's All Right.
In 2012, he was guitarist for The Bridge Session, a collaboration between The National and Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir. Other projects include producing, engineering, and performing with several instruments the Blake Hazard album Eleanor Islands. Cohen also produced the single "Catch A Break" by Superhuman Happiness, and he produced and played on Solar Door by Mesiko. He has also played guitar with Alecia Chakour. In 2013 he played guitar on two tracks of Joseph Arthur's album The Ballad of Boogie Christ, and also played guitar on the 2013 Trixie Whitley album Fourth Corner. He contributed electric guitar to several tracks on an album by Walter Martin in 2014, also helping with engineering.
Cohen is also known for his original collages on the Yellowbirds album covers and his collage animation videos. The first Sam Cohen record, Cool It, will be out April 28, 2015 on Easy Sound Records, and will primarily feature Cohen playing all of the instruments. He released the first preview from the album, “Kepler 62,” in November 2014 on Stereogum. Hilly Dilly described "Kepler 62" as "partly psychedelic and partly retro, but there’s also a sprinkle of cosmic vibes interspersed within."