Posts Tagged ‘Cosmic Americana’

Trevor Beld Jimenez

Country-psych veteran Trevor Beld Jimenez has been a name kicking around rosters for years — popping up on Fruit Bats, Kacey Johansing, and DIOS recordings. He was found hunkering down with Neal Casal and Brent Rademaker in GospelbeacH, and with his songwriting partner Tim Ramsey in Parting Lines and Tall Tales & The Silver Lining. For his solo debut on Rademaker’s Curation Records, the songwriter digs deeper into the tie that seems to bind them all – the salt-flecked sundown shimmer of California calm. Rooted in ‘70s songwriter hallmarks, the songs here are swinging from wounded Petty and Nilsson to the AM gold of Bread and America. The album shares a lot of ground with the musical foxholes of his past, feeling like many of the songs wouldn’t be out of place in any of the bands that bear his name, though it might hew closest to the feeling of Parting Lines. Like the songs on the Lines’ debut, there’s a porch-at-dusk feeling to I Like It Here and its hard not to give in to the familiarity.

More AOR than cosmic country, though, Jimenez is steeped in the well-shined pop that’s hovering a bit above the usual twang-flecked purveyors that populate Raven of late. That he’s been around the Fruit Bats crew isn’t surprising, Jimenez shares a lot of pop impulses with Eric, D. Johnson, and its not unexpected that the Bats songwriter lends a hand to the record. Also finding their way into the mix are contemporaries and cohorts, Clay Finch (Mapache) and Pearl Charles along with studio heavy players like Nelson Bragg and Bob Glaub. While Jimenez can sometimes kick up a bit of dust, the record’s speed is often found sinking into the horizon, heavy with a sigh of the past and a drink at half mast. It’s not always a bad place to be. It’s certainly comfortable while it lasts and when the alcohol wears off, the head swim of melancholy lingers for the night.



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David Nance

November just keeps giving musically and the new release from David Nance is hard proof. The Omaha artist switched his setup towards full band and knocked the gears to heavy on his last LP, but he’s back to basics for Staunch Honey and while I miss the UV burn of Peaced and Slightly Pulverized I appreciate the unfettered and unfiltered version of Nance all the more this time around. A ragged county blues that’s ripped out of some alt-American version of a national songbook, the record is the sound of dust storms whipping through vacant cul-de-sacs abandoned after the housing crisis hollowed them out. It’s the sound of scarred lots in Detroit built with blight but hosting an outdoor noise show. Its the sound of catharsis, sweet and simple — the rumble of mufflers over the horizon harmonizing with the amplifiers to create a grit-ground vision of Americana if there were no longer pretensions attached to the term.

Nance has tapped down deep into something singular, secular, and universal. The dust in his veins is pure, and it’s beat down into every note of Staunch Honey. The shift between Peaced and this record is palpable. Everything has slowed to an amber glow that gives the titular substance weight on the record. The riffs are run through finest local batch, then countrified and clarified until they’re something ragged, raw, and unmistakable. If we were in need of a cleanse in 2020, Nance has stepped up to the challenge and brought the blacklight backbeat that douses the masses in a deluge of blues — enough to buff out the buildup from a half decade of bad vibes. Nance brings the lights low, lets the bar crowd die down and then lays out the 2AM shakes like an old aficionado. Make no mistake, Staunch Honey is rarefied air and you’d do well to breath it in deep.




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SUSS – “Winter Light”

SUSS offer up an appropriately frigid video for their cut “Winter Light” off of the upcoming Promise. The band’s ambient country shines through, even in the bitter cold and all encompassing grey that’s coming for us in just a few short weeks. The song utilizes slides and synths to create a mournful, almost inconsolable darkness around the song. While there’s an argument that pedal steel can be the secret weapon of great country, here the band wields it to a devastating effect. The accompanying video dims the sun with scenes of snow covered stillness thats an apt pairing for the song. The new record is out December 4th from Northern Spy.



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Garcia Peoples

Four albums on Garcia Peoples still sound like they’re tapping into the main nerve driving guitar rock in an era of subdivision and split-hair genres. While Nightcap at Wit’s End lands more refined and textural than their first couple of LPs, it retains the essential spirit that imbued their catalog with life in the first place. With Pat Gubler firmly entrenched in the band and not just a touring player, the Garcias bound off the experience of creating the massive “One Step Behind” to embark on an album that’s more than a gift to the jam — an all encompassing journey between the edges of the platter. Acoustic touches find greater import, letting the band slip past the phalanx of three-pronged guitar whirl laid down by Arakaki/Malach/Spaldo. Flutes bring the mists, organs swell with sinister purpose. The album is decidedly darker and more complex than their shaggy choogle of yore, seeing the band embrace an earnest vision of prog as it might find footing in 2020. Though they’d likely skirt the term, there’s some bones of the Düül and a touch of the Crimson finding its way into the complexity here. As the album wears on, though, some surprising new names enter the fray as well — bearing claw marks of Agitation Free, Roy Harper, and even solo David Crosby.

The first half of the LP sets out to absorb a wider array of cosmic rays, flung wide through their and hurtling out beyond mere stage-born grooves. From the full bore guitar growl that opens “Gliding Through” to the folk touches that seep through the sifter on “Painting A Vision That Carries,” this is Garcia Peoples at their most adventurous. The latter track sees the band marry a touch of Fairport / Trees fingerpick and freakout to their already stuffed basket of influences and it feels good to let in a little softness. Yet if the first side embraces a spin through various progressive heartthrobs of the ‘70s, the second half clinches it.

Flip the record and we find them constructing a suite of songs that lets vision win out over the instinct to set a song to riff. Here they swab the strains of several of the aforementioned ‘70s forbears to create a huge, mercurial set that bleeds one song into the next. The last album took us all on an epic ride, but here they’re building something even more solid. If “One Step Beyond” embraces their drive, then “Our Life Could Be Your Van” has to be something of a core mantra. Which begs the point — I truly regret that our current circumstances mean that its going to be a while before I get to witness these songs taking flight on the stage, but for now this is a hell of a lot to pick through and parse at home.




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Frank & The Hurricanes – “Balsam Babe”

Another one from the Sophomore Lounge stable today and it brings news of a new LP on the way from Frank & The Hurricanes. The band last popped up as The Hurricanes of Love with a release split between Feeding Tube and Crash Symbols, and the worn-in, reclined vibe that Frank was hitting on the lat release remains in tact. Frank’s got a way of translating summertime backyard beers to an entire aural aesthetic, feeling like a half ton of tension-melting good will in every bar. He’s only shored up his grip on the Americana trickle out of classic rock, perpetrating his mud-caked gospel over the sunny tangle of strings on “Balsam Babe” Its good to know that Frank’s out there taking it easy for all of us sinners. The new LP lands November 20th on Sophomore Lounge.



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Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn – “Last Goodbye”

Canadian songwriter Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn continues his excellent run of solo LPs for his own Cosmic Range Records. Beginning with the double 2018 run of Lightbourn and Some Horses Run and continuing through last years’ Upper Canada Blues Dunn has tapped into a weathered, country-flecked sound that’s shouldering a heavy load of emotional weight with the feeling that there’s plenty of road left to travel. He brings on fellow psych-country crooner James Matthew VII to add some stringwork to the LP, injecting his own mellowed gold to the sounds. Dunn’s perfected the art of the bittersweet swoon and while there are two solid pre-release singles up today, its “Last Goodbye” that captures the bright dawn sunlight best. The song gallops along with a breeze in its bones — a traveling song that leaves it all behind, but not without a pang that pulls at the soul. Rain, Rain, Rain is out October 26th and is up today for pre-order.



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Sacred Cowboys: Xian Cosmic American Music

Over the past couple of years I’ve been putting together a series of mixtapes that have coupled together some genre faves from one corner of music or another. Some of my favorites have been explorations of new and old Cosmic Country and this mixtape follows suit. After talking with Bobby Lee, who’s tape Shakedown in Slabtown explores the ambient arm of the genre with glowing results, he proposed putting together a mixtape of ’70s Christian Country for the site. Having found some favorites in spiritual jazz, and gospel blues I was interested with the strain that Lee was describing. Check out the first guest mixtape for the site below along with a bit of background from Lee. And since its a Bandcamp Friday, you can head to pickup his latest while you’re at it.

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Silver Synthetic – “Unchain Your Heart”

Another taste of the new Silver Synthetic EP on Third Man comes out with a ‘70s swathed video of the band playing a Top of the Pop style setup. The trappings fit the band who are definitely hitting a low gear choogle on “Unchain Your Heart.” Its an even looser side to the band than on the previous single and they nab the last of the summer breeze and bring it curling down the coast with them. They’ve let go of the motorik sway that infected “Out Of The Darkness” and let this one go full denim stomper with a smooth groove and some subtle handclaps underpinning their sunshine harmonies. The whole record’s a short, but excellent addition to the Cosmic Americana cannon of late and it feels like just the beginning of larger things. The EP is out 10/2 on Third Man.

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Nick Mitchell Maiato

There’s joy and sadness in the new solo LP from Nick Mitchell Maiato. The joy is always inherent in his works — it’s a feeling that bubbles under his songwriting these days and one that explodes into waves of color when he lets fly guitar parts that shift and shimmer as much as they burn incandescently. The sadness comes, as most seems to of late, with the knowledge of what could have been had we all not been set adrift due to disease. The songs on this album were to be the beginning sketches of the lineup for a third One Eleven Heavy album that, at least in this form, will likely never be. The band was set to convene and combine these with works by Toth and Chew that would have carved themselves into their latest love letter to classic rock cyphers and cosmic choogle. That third album will come, but not as it was originally conceived.

Still, the feelings of joy should win out in this struggle of the senses and sentiments, as we cannot lament forever what might have been and instead have to embrace what Pino Carrasco has become. Those sketches were worked into full flight songs that embrace Nick’s half of the Heavies — the buoyant tangle of guitar that’s rooted in Crazy Horse’s grit, Canned Heat’s heartbeat boogie, and Satana’s playful willingness to experiment with rhythm. That Nick’s able to channel the push/pull feeling of testing one another that a full band can attain is impressive to say the least, for an artist alone. While the Heavies have an ecstatic dynamic, Maiato’s able to create his own imaginary ensemble in the studio, adopting amiably the instruments of his peers and creating a whiskey-rubbed Brill Building of one with cosmic ambitions. The dynamic comes to a head on the album’s anchor pieces “Show Yourself” and “Ode To What,” the latter an impressive feat of time-change gymnastics that tumbles the listener through more than a few hairpin highs. Don’t lament the loss, just let Pino Carrasco lift up your heart during the dour months. Its a sunshine-scrubbed delight that keeps the listener on their toes.




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Half Stack

This one’s been on the RSTB radar for a little while and it’s great to finally have it in hand. Oakland’s Half Stack wander the Western deserts well, but there’s a bit more Nashville in their tank than Laurel Canyon lilt. Wings of Love wraps up a familiar alt-country formula of twang-spiked ramble and electric rumble, but the band makes it feel like first love rather than second run territory. The record deals with a certain longing to be away from your own surroundings. For the band the lure of the American heartland seems to pull strong, despite their moorings in the sunny, salt-scrubbed air of California. They play the tumble of twang well and pair it with a wistful spirit that’s as wide and free as skies along an endless highway.

While the band’s Patrick Kegler has had an admitted on and off relationship with country, the full embrace here is pure of heart. While the old school might have taught him guitar, there’s certainly a filter of ‘70s Stones, Burritos, and ‘00s revivalists (The Stands, Beachwood Sparks, etc) at work here. The record wanders through the streets looking for home and harbor, but it mostly just melts into the night air, comfortable in its wanderlust. Kegler found his home with garage and indie before finally admitting that his country roots pulled too strong, but it seems that what the heart wants is inevitably right. The auburn glow of Wings of Love is hard to push aside, and the songs here endear listen after listen with a reverberating joy, bittersweet but ultimately comforting in its own skin.




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