The Tarnished GoldAlbum |
Laurel Canyon revivalists return.
Back at the turn of the millennium, Beachwood Sparks felt like some kind of weird throwback. Their two (really quite good) albums were unapologetically indebted to the countrified folk-rock of Los Angeles at the dawn of the 1970s, when folk-rock and psychedelia fused into the Laurel Canyon sound, and the band didn't seem musically connected to anything else that was going on at the time. They were treated as a curiosity when they weren't being actively ignored. Ironically, it turns out that Beachwood Sparks were a decade ahead of the curve as well as three decades behind. In a world where acts like Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver are Grammy-winning media stars and two-thirds of the kids in Brooklyn are sporting Garth Hudson-style neckbeards, Beachwood Sparks' cosmic country sounds far less foreign to modern indie ears. Despite the 11-year interval, The Tarnished Gold sounds pretty much exactly like its two predecessors: plenty of floating pedal steel guitar, Byrds-style harmonies, tempos that rarely rise beyond "mosey," and an overall patchouli-and-skunkweed vibe. But while the band's revivalist tendencies are in full swing -- "Leave That Light On" is more than a little reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac's "Albatross," and "The Orange Grass Special" finds the group in full Nitty Gritty Dirt Band mode -- the songs are consistently strong, making The Tarnished Gold a fine complement to Beachwood Sparks' younger neo-country-rock compatriots, as well as the perfect soundtrack for a sweltering midsummer night.