André Costello's musical journey was jump-started in part by a college-age breakup — not a horribly unique story. But it was helped along by the Law of Increased Entropy; in that, perhaps he's a bit more novel.
"We had broken up, and there was that — she was this perfection, then that was gone," the 24-year-old songwriter recalls. "And I was in college, and all of my classes were telling me that the world was messed up. Economics said that the economy was messed up. In chemistry, we learned about the Second Law of Thermodynamics: that everything tends toward entropy. And that catapulted me into a real depression."
Fortunately, Costello — an Ellwood City native who lives in Brookline — says he learned to "find a beauty in the terrible." And after a stint in the band The Slant, Costello prepared his solo debut André Costello and the Cool Minors.
The CD, replete with hand-screened artwork (Costello is trained as a graphic designer), was issued last month by Wild Kindness Records, a small indie from Youngstown, Ohio.
On his debut, Costello provides all the sounds. (As cataloged in the liner notes, they range from "Voice" to "Dying Electronic Novelty Keychain.") It's a collection of understated, beautiful tunes with an Americana backbone and warm vocals reminiscent of Fleet Foxes' Robin Pecknold. The lyrics are relatable but borderline surreal, and recall the terrible beauty he professes to see. ("Fields of horses / converted into glue / Untold forces / are watching what you do," begins "Equestrian Dreams.") It's got the hallmarks of a solo-project recording: buzzing electronics here, lots of auxiliary percussion, unconventional interaction between acoustic and synthetic sounds.
Costello is now playing live shows with a trio — they open for Atlas Sound this Sat., Jan. 21, at Penn State — and he plans a more conventional set-up on the follow-up album.
But his take on music-making is still anything but conventional. "My girlfriend once said I'm like a sculptor," Costello says. "All of the sound waves are already there — making music is just a matter of taking them and shaping them." Call it the Law of Conservation of Music.
More information on André Costello can be found at www.facebook.com/costelloandthecoolminors.