Posts Tagged ‘Cosmic Americana’

Rose City Band

I premiered the first cut off of this killer a while back, but the week has finally come for the whole platter to land in our collective laps. The record, a slight sideline from Ripley Johnson’s duties at the helm of more than a few psych stalwarts, takes the mellow mantras of Moon Duo, strips away the motorik keys and beds down in a lush dusting of Cosmic Americana. Its that lushness that sets this record apart from the new crop of cosmic country crawlers these days. There’s a creamy brush of twang and a slow motion choogle ripplin’ through the ramble, but over the top Ripley’s keeping his croons echoing around a humid hothouse and it lays the album way way back into the pocket of blissed sunset sounds. Likewise the guitars more often that not achieve a particularly wet swelter that’s sweats from the strings, quenching dry country rollick.

It’s a bit of a detour from the Little Feat / Dead dichotomy that’s cropped up of late, but don’t you fret, Rose City Band are as locked into the endless euphoria of the eternal jam as any of their contempos. Once the record rolls ‘round to the mind melt of “Fear Song,” you know you’re home. The album’s at its most serene when it locks into a melted swoon, with the kind of liquid lysergic guitar that’s always been Rip’s specialty bouncing off the country strut in perfect balance. There’s a genuine feeling that this record has been lost in the stacks just waiting to be found by the right set of ears, a nod to the harder to pick up country-psych melters like Relatively Clean Rivers, Jim Sullivan, KAK, or Curt Newbury. Where Rose City swerves expectations, though, is by boiling those belters down with an ear towards heavier progression, recalling the latter half of Can’s “Spray” if those guys came up in Laurel Canyon.

Its an almost overwhelming year for music, with necessary releases popping up faster than any sane listener can grab them, but this is highly recommended for pickup. The record’s a psychedelic crossroads that’s not being traversed as much these days, and as usual Johnson’s created a record that’s absorbing as its own little world. Once this hits the turntable you’re set to repeat endlessly until the leaves give out and the skies are parched once again of that pristine pearl blue. Rose City Band is the calm center of your summer.




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SUSS – “Chisholm Trail”

Adding to the cosmic conversation, NY’s Suss molds lysergic instrumentals threaded through with a country calm and rippled with serenity. The band is grafting aquamarine slides and tear-jerked guitars to the radiant shimmer and ambient float of synths, creating a hybrid of William Tyler’s country pickers and Boards of Canada’s otherworldly ambiance. On the A-side to their upcoming single, “Chisholm Trail,” the band heralds their arrival with mournful harmonicas that seem to indicate a Morricone twang is imminent before melting like moonlight into warbling tones, buttery pedal steel, and galloping strums. The track’s about as meditative as they come, with just a touch of bittersweet on the back end, making this one easy to absorb before it slips away into the night on the edges of pre-dawn fog. The new single arrives June 28th from Northern Spy.




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Garcia Peoples

It seems like just a few months ago that Jersey’s young gun guitar greats Garcia Peoples graced us with their debut, Cosmic Cash. That record, born out of the cutout bin clamor for a resurgence of ‘70s denim draped sounds, was the soundtrack to summer haze in 2018. The band made a strong case for a return to the karmic well, divining the spaces between The Dead, Hot Tuna, Mountain Bus, Mighty Baby, and FAT. Yet, despite the band’s Arakaki brothers barely even scratching this temporal plane of existence when the tape trades swapped to file transfers, the band evokes quite convincingly a headier era, when the way to peace lie in between the woven lines of interlocked guitars soaking up the sun.

They, along with a few other keepers of the Cosmic Cloth who’ve stepped out of the smoke in the last couple of years, have been warding off the sour taste left behind by frat bros soaked in spilled vape liquid and sweat who can’t stop telling you how much better Widespread is in the pocket. Instead they foster an environment of bucolic guitar nirvana that’s a bit sunnier and a touch smarter, zeroing in on the positivity and playfulness one would expect from a band with such a pointed moniker. The new album straddles finely the line of grass between the edge of the city and the beginning of the country. Natural Facts is a still full of the cool breezes that blow as you tumble down that Black Mountainside (see: “Weathered Mountains”) but they’ve added a touch of toughness into the formula this time around. The city seeps up through the cracks in the soles of their shoes, giving the guitars a bigger bite that also soaks the record in a greater sense of relief when the band loses themselves in the roiling waves of dual guitar euphoria that can only be amplified when they’re fleshed out on stage.

Speaking of the stage, the band has already built themselves quite a live reputation, which often makes a hard transition to the record. For any band whose live sets read > like > an > expression > of > equation rather than a bulleted list, compartmentalizing the flow to two sides of wax can prove a challenge. The band escapes for the most part unscathed, eschewing the suite method they’d employed on their last album and giving the tracks on Natural Facts a cap around the five-minute mark. They manage to engross still within these truncated lengths, while making the album flow with the ease of a band used to sewing their songs into an aural tapestry. Short order, if you were on board the train last album, then you won’t be disappointed here. If you’re just now buying the ticket, then Natural Facts will drop you at the edge of the psychedelic veil just as gently.



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Garcia Peoples – “High Noon Violence”

If you’re just now finding your way to Garcia Peoples, well, then I feel sorry for you. Their last album was a true gem of Cosmic Americana and you’ve been missing out. However, I also feel excited for you, go dive through the debut and get ready for the follow-up, which is shaping up to be another heady journey through high-minded, body-buzz jam workouts. The band lets loose today with the torrent “High Noon Violence,” a knotted gem besieged with overcast harmonies and flooded with their usual unspoken imprint of The Dead – though flashes of New Riders and Mountain Bus wash over the rinds of their guitar salad as well as this track kicks into high gear. Its a definite highlight from the upcoming Natural Facts which lands at the end of March on their old stomping grounds, Beyond Beyond is Beyond.



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Ash & Herb – “Salt Lick”

Notch another win for the constant creep of Cosmic Americana and East Coast freak psych, Ash & Herb are back and things are woollier than ever. After a solid offering from MV&EE house label Child of Microtones, the duo have a new 7″ on the way from Maine label Flower Room and the A-side’ll knock you sideways. The band is gearing up for album #2, titled Dome Cookbook (channeling Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic vibes, eh) but before they go that route the band is kicking out a double shot single. “Salt Lick” ropes in a previously unfelt funk to the mix, pinning a chooglin’ beat to spacey keys and reverbed marinated vocals for a track that’s keeping pace with their circle of contempos in Wet Tuna, MV & EE, and Mountain Movers, while also feeling like a force all their own. The band’s debut owed a lot to the shrouded school of forest folk, but its clear with the release of “Salt Lick” that they have no intention of blending into the bushes by the time that second LP rolls around. This is a stacked high bonfire party track that’s begging to be blasted to the top canopy of any camp out. Too bad its January, but keep this on file for the coming spring thaw.



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Garcia Peoples – “Feel So Great”

Less than a year on from their debut this past summer, Brooklyn’s Garcia Peoples are back at the helm with another burner on the docket. Opener “Feel So Great” lightly pushes aside their penchant for Cosmic Americana to go for the psychedelic burn proper, driving a low-slung riff with the prowess of vets twice their age. The harder edge doesn’t keep the ebullience away – the song opens up to a steam-bath cooldown in the middle before hitching the groove back up for a ride out of town. Yet this is definitely a different side of the band from what was on display on Cosmic Cash. Less of the Dead at play here, replaced by shades of Neil Young’s oft-maligned (and wrongly so) ’90s output, though the band claims that The Who’s sweat-soaked live shows were the inspiration for the song. Still working overtime to make believers out of a generation of jam deniers, Garcia Peoples show no sign of flagging, slumping of sagging on their sophomore outing.


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New Rose – “Plenty of Flowers”

For an East Coast band, bound to the NYC streets, there’s a remarkable amount California salt in New Rose’s veins. Their last album tucked into alt-country with the vigor of exiles trying on a new skin, but as is evident from the first taste of the upcoming Crying Eyes, they’re now quite comfortable in that Western skin and looking to make their mark on the legacy of country-psych and Cosmic Americana. Add another name to the list of 2018 bands joyously recapturing the tipping point of psychedelia’s innocence lost. “Plenty of Flowers,” which boasts the inclusion of session legend Al Perkins on pedal steel, evokes the kind of sighed Sunday resolve that looks back on the regrets, indulgences and mistakes of the past week with a narcotic detachment that’s warmed by the late afternoon sun and buffeted by the last few beers in the fridge.

Wagner and co. have gone to lengths to outfit the record with the right totems of a bygone era and they’re capturing the Canyon’s light just right. Aside from Perkins (who played on Gram Parsons and Rolling Stones’ records) the band’s pulled in players who worked with Linda Rondstat and Kacey Musgraves alongside vocals from Anna Fox of Quilt. “Plenty of Flowers” tips its hat to their raglan and linen vibes and sets a nice tone for an album of imaginary melancholic L.A. misadventures dreamed by those born just out of time’s reach.



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One Eleven Heavy

As I’ve certainly mentioned previously, One Eleven Heavy comes stacked with a considerable cache of talent – roping in members of Wooden Wand, Endless Boogie, Royal Trux, Desmadrados Soldados De Ventura, and Ryley Walker’s touring band. While the players personal geographies run the span on the Hubeadian Map, drawing in both Coasts and dipping into the UK with Nick Mitchell Maiato, the band shares a unmistakable thread of Cosmic Americana between them. That particular strain of jam-seeded classic rock seems to have sprung up from the ground again in thick ripples over the last few years, reaching full maturity in this year of our lord 2018 and One Eleven Heavy arrive baptized in its blood and spreading the gospel well.

Like the crews of their cosmic brethren (Howlin’ Rain, Garcia Peoples, Wet Tuna), they’re hitting full stride with heady jams that hearken back to the years occupying the comedown close of the Summer of Love, with the ideals of the psychedelic era already starting to fade in the rearview and the amphetamine sweat of ’72 just starting to coalesce. The band strips back the stigma of extended time stamps while they work their way through a set that feeds on Levon’s legacy and elevates Little Feat from the sidelines of drive time radio. They channel the Burritos in their unjustly ignored post-Parsons years, while scraping just a touch of Gene Clark’s breakdown brilliance from No Other.

The record tangles the subtle twang of those raised on a diet of jukebox country crooners with the salt scrub of Western air, laying songs back into a pocket that exists somewhere between chooglin’ and juggin’ depending on how deep you want to dive into your own psychedelic pockets. For a debut, the record feels remarkably lived in. Fresh out of the shrink it already assumes frays and stains that belie its vintage, as if it can’t help but come from the plant with ring wear and a hint of basement musk. The band taps the telepathy of players that have shared stages far longer than their brief tenure – a testament to the individuals assembled – and one can only assume that each of the album’s songs is given a new life on the stage. On record, though, it shines bright as Orange Sunshine, an instant classic that should hook the heads who walked the lot and open up a new era for those who only soaked in the sun through Dick’s picks and regret.

While the record’s up on Bandcamp as of last Friday, and you damn well should have bought it already, its highly likely the rest of you are hitting the three spin cap, leaving you ostensibly out of luck until the record hits Spotify this upcoming weekend. However, for the next week, before the record hits streaming proper, you can get the full view from Soundcloud below. Don’t say we never did anything for ya.




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Mixtape: Goin’ West

Been a while since there was a mixtape up, but these things take time and tenderness. For the latest mixtape I’m taking some inspiration from 2018’s slide towards Cosmic Americana. With albums from One Eleven Heavy, Garcia People, Howlin’ Rain, New Parents and Wet Tuna leading the charge back towards ’71-’72 I though it might be in order to round up some of those West Coast sounds that hit on resonant frequencies to the new crop of smooth players. While most, if not all, have already pledged allegiance to their own favorite boots of The Dead and there’s a communal love for Royal Trux, Little Feat, Crazy Horse and Levon Helm, I thought I’d scoop up some outer-stream suggestions to fit the bill. Ok, sure, I’m cheating a bit with the Flying Burrito inclusion, but despite a wealth of praise from any outlet that would let you listen, that one’s just a great song that fits the vibe.

Travel further down this roadmap of country-tinged, sun-soaked songs from ’69 on and feel the vibes slow down to a simmer for the end of summer. It’s not all West Coast -The Wizards from Kansas were actually from Kansas, Mountain Bus were from Chicago despite longing for the country – but each of these hits on that cosmic view of American psych that cropped up along the coast. It all winds down with one of the germs of the sound, The Charlatans’ “Alabama Bound,” a song that’s often been noted as being the proto-“Playing In The Band.” Artwork inspired by so many Grateful Dead bootlegs. Click below for tracklist and stream.

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