Posts Tagged ‘Cosmic Americana’

Bobby Lee

xThis week marks the release of Bobby Lee’s follow-up to his excellent 2020 debut Shakedown in Slabtown. Double the joy because the first LP is getting a vinyl UK vinyl edition while he’ll land at Tompkins Square here in the US for the physical release of Origin Myths. Lee (GospelbeacH, Canyon Family) added to the excellent run of cosmic country that permeated the air last year and his latest sinks deeper into the streaked skies and rolling vistas that Slabtown began to explore. With a warm layer of tape hiss running underneath, Lee lays out eight (twelve on the LP) more landscapes of vision quest country, letting the listener wander in a heatstroke haze with occasional dips into oases that may or may not truly exist. It’s an LP that vibrates in rare air, finding its home weaving through the heat-ripple haze off of the long dusted pavement.

While the last record had more of a boogie element to it, melting down JJ Cale and and Golden Gunn choogle into a languorous stretch of slow shifting psychedelic headspace, this time he leans heavier into the Bruce Langhorne touches that curled at the edges of his debut. The long, lingering feel of Western expanses creeps into the out-of-body buzz, lifting the listener into the strata above the plains to float between the heart and the horizon. Joining SUSS, Bobby Walker Jr, and North Americans, Lee helps to round out a new wave of top line ambient country. Like his peers, Lee excels a channeling the twin prongs of the American Southwest — the beauty and the loneliness — into an aural ache strong enough to pull sorrow and serenity from the marrow by the milligram. Shakdown in Slabtown set the listener free to enter Bobby’s strain of cosmic vibration, Origin Myths finds the thrum of the canyon and sets it to tape.

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The Peacers – “The Ghost of a Motherfucker”

Happy to see that one of my favorite cuts from The Peacer’s new LP, Blexxed Rec gets a video this week. The excellently named “Ghost of a Motherfucker” is blessed with a low slung blues shuffle from Mike Donovan (Sic Alps, The Mother’s Network), further bashed into fine form with the songwriter’s weather-worn vocals. Playing off its dusted denim swagger, the song capitalizes on what The Peacers do best — sun-toasted slow burn anthems that sweat through the speakers. The song is given an equally easy moving video, with riverside images from Benjamin Maddox providing a dank, dusty backdrop to an equally gnarly cut. The new LP is out March 26th from Drag City.


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Silver Synthetic – “In The Beginning”

Loved the debut EP from New Orleans chooglers Silver Synthetic last year and with “In The Beginning,” the band announces their first LP for Third Man coming on April 9th. The song follows the debut’s sunbaked country saunter — a warm gulf stream gust of Cosmic Americana that’s steeped in twang with just a hint of West Coast vibe and running through it. While its not easy to shake the salt air out of the song, at its core there’s a heatstruck, back porch ease to “In The Beginning” that feels soaked in humid Southern summer nights with nothing on the docket the next day. Despite its title, the cut’s a bit of an end of party tune, winding down with the last couple of stalwarts still taking in that star-borne vista and feeling set for the moment. The band’s eponymous debut sets them up nicely to slot in among the current cosmic revival, clipping a couple of stunners from the EP and setting them up with a whole bunch of new favorites as well. Recommend you keep an eye on this one.

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Rose City Band – “Lonely Spaces”

The musical landscape of 2021 just keeps getting better. Having already soundtracked 2020 with the excellent Summerlong from Rose City Band, Ripley Johnson gives us all a new companion to our solitude. The last album was marked by its breezy communal feel — a celebration of the road that got under the skin to spread the warmth of eternal summer. Earth Trip is by turns a much more solitary record, as might be expected of something recorded over the past year. The first song slows his Summerlong pace and simmers in the feeling of space and the ache of loneliness. Though it finds a silver lining in the joys of being alone in nature that might otherwise be spoiled by a crowd.

Still marked by Ripley’s sun-washed cosmic country that merges West Coast psych with private press ‘70s country, but this time the pace is slowed and that sense of ease that was ever-present in the past is tinged with a bittersweet ache. While the record was recorded mostly at home in Johnson’s studio, Rip’s glycerine guitar passages are offset by some excellent pedal steel work by one of 2020’s consistent stunners — Barry Walker Jr. “Lonely Places” practically sighs with Walker’s contributions, helping the listener get lost in the verdant respite of Johnson’s song. The new LP is out May 21st from Thrill Jockey.


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Hotels on Mars – “Worst Year On Record”

The opener, “Worst Year on Record,” from the Hotels On Mars’ debut has only gotten more prescient since the time it was recorded. A farewell to 2020 set to be released just a month and a half after the year’s fallen off the calendar, and its fair to say the taste hasn’t come close to getting washed out of anyone’s mouths. The song hits like a sigh, deep and unconsciously shed. Mat Weitman’s sauntered vocals slouch nicely in the shade of his crimson slides, strums pulled close and comforting like an heirloom afghan. The song’s got a half turned smirk to it, but in the end the universal truth shows through the quip. There’s a half-whiff of the current country creep into cosmic folk at play, but Weitman also has a knack for channeling the last wave from ’04-’06 quite nicely — playing in the shadows of The Sky High Band, Disciples-era Skygreen, and Vetiver.

The record is out February 12th from Styles Upon Styles, and as a contribution caveat, Mat notes, “As a Brooklyn-based artist I find it extremely important to engage with and support my community. While this song and record are retrospective in terms of subject matter, I have chosen to give 50% of all proceeds to the South Brooklyn Mutual Aid; if we all try to help one another, we can make this year better than the last.”



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The Pink Stones – “Blueberry Dream”

Quite into this new single from Athens’ The Pink Stones. The band’s been slipping out a couple of solid singles through Bandcamp over the past year or so and now they make a jump to New West imprint Normaltown. The first cut from the upcoming Introducing…The Pink Stones is a buttery slide through the cosmic canyon, laying into the pedal steel and watching the clouds contort into shapes above. “Blueberry Dream,” conjurs a lush West Coast oasis of sound, letting the echo fall like fog around the edges of its sun-baked country calm. Looking forward to more in this vein from the band when their debut lands on April 9th. For now, I’ll just keep this video, directed by The Pink Stones, Rosalia Parra, Rosie Kelly, and Dylan Newling, on repeat.



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Alex Bleeker – “La La La”

Got a new one that swings at the sunset pretty damn nicely. Real Estate’s Alex Bleeker has had a solid solo hustle over past few years — sometimes with The Freaks and sometimes simply under his own name. This one falls under the latter and sees the songwriter slide into the Night Bloom roster for his new LP Heaven On The Faultline. Bleeker’s always had the most cosmic connotations of any of the Estate solo jaunts, and that deep sway Cosmic Americana vibe is on full display on “La La La.” The record often finds him lounging in a sea-cooled West Coast calm, jangles edging up to the borders of twang, but never quite tumbling into country territory. The song (and admittedly a great deal of the album) shares some space with newfound indie jam pockets like Pacific Range, Hurt Valley, and Arbor Labor Union. The last album hit some Workingman’s and Big Pink touchstones and they haven’t abated in the interim. The new LP is out March 5th.



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Young Guv – “Maybe I Should Luv Somebody Else”

I can’t help but love the constant mutations that Ben Cook applies to Young Guv. From the garage grit that spawned the name, he’s launched himself into bouts of creating perfect power pop, 80’s synth slink, and now it seems that he’s set his sights on the nudie suit saunter of ‘70s country. From the Flying Burritos font that greets us in the opening minutes of “Maybe I Should Luv Somebody Else,” to the 12-string jangle that cracks the seal, the song is instantly divergent from Young Guv’s past, yet just as lovingly created in the image of its predecessors. Cook has a chameleonic ability to inhabit a genre and make it his own, while feeling like he’s created some lost artifact found in the cutout bin for the savvy collectors out there. The song jangles with spirit of The Byrds as a North Star, adding in some pedal steel, banjo, and sunset harmonies. Ben’s had a couple of standalone singles this year, but if this is a possible direction for an album, I’m hopeful and waiting on more in this vein.

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Golden Brown

It’s been a packed year, at least musically, and for that I’m always a bit grateful that December slows down to a bit of a crawl. Though, the rush to zip up the year seems to be especially pervasive this year. Nonetheless, there are still plenty of albums that need a good shout before I can call the line on 2020. Case in point is this immersive work from Colorado’s Golden Brown. The record popped up in Bandcamp digging but got swept away until now, but that’s no assessment on the works couched in Flora and Fauna of the Uncanny Valley. Stefan Beck adds to the year’s renewed focus on lush instrumental folk and cosmic country. With touches of charango, cello, lap steel, and a gentle brush of field recordings, Golden Brown’s album is a pastoral delight glows under the rays of a rising sun. Beck lets his guitars ramble, but less in the Takoma school and ebbing into the open arms of Cosmic American breakdowns shot through with an Appalachian heart.

The record stretches out, long as sun on the valley — the songs waft in and out with a feeling of changing on the breeze. The natural qualities endear this quite nicely to the work of North Americans, both records wind themselves through the natural world in symbiotic bliss. Beck handles all instruments here save for the cello, and it’s an impressive undertaking to say the least. Beck hasn’t remained still since Flora and Fauna’s release, re-recording some early material with fresh ears and creating a dub version of several of the album’s tracks, playing with the sense of atmospherics. Beck’s is a talent I hope to hear more from in the coming years, but for now this is a glowing album of subtle grace.



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Wet Tuna – “Walk On”

Another Bandcamp Friday swings into view and that means that there’s plum opportunities to support artists directly. One of the best releases to peek out from behind the glut of Bandcamp emails every month is the Eau’d To A Fake Bookie series from Wet Tuna. The first two volumes offered some deep-set Tuna vibes and covers, giving a taste of the band’s exploratory live sets from the comfort of the couch. The band returns with yet another volume today and it’s just as humid and thick with vibrations as the last couple. The band pounds through three sweltering cuts before closing the release out with a massive, nearly 16-minute version of perennial Neil Young favorite, “Walk On.” It’s a cosmic careen into the upper headspace and I couldn’t be more excited that this one is blowing out today. Nab that sucker over at the Tuna Bandcamp.




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