Posts Tagged ‘Cosmic Americana’

Silver Synthetic – “Out Of The Darkness”

The ragged confines of the Cosmic American summer are seeping in all around us and there’s one more to add to the queue today. Eschewing the garage crunch that he’s usually corralling with Bottomfeeders, Chris Lyons teams ups with mems of his daytime digs and Jeff The Brotherhood for an EP on Third Man that’s got more than a little jam in its bones. The title track pairs some hypnotic rhythm with a choogled soul that simmers throughout the song. The prickled guitars in the opening are shot through with the Maplethrope-veined prickle from the grittier side of the ‘70s but the band rounds it out into a deepened groove that drops out of Television’s embrace and into the sunny sways once again. The band’s got a full EP in similar fashion on the way and rumbles of a full LP for Third Man as well.




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Mixtape: Goodwill Cowboys Ride Again

At the end of last year I put together a mixtape that shifted the focus of the series from more archival offerings to something that wrapped up newer artists. Some Cowboy You Turned Out To Be took a look at a new wave if indie, alt, and cosmic country and now I’m offering up a sequel that expands the spectrum, reaching back a couple of years to nab some I’ve missed and including a crush of new songs that have found their way out in the last year. The wave of Cosmic Americana is still going strong and there are a lot of new names here and even a couple that cropped up on Cowboy that have already let new gems out in to the air. The last time the mix had a bit of a heavy heart, but there’s a bit more jubilance this time around. Continuing with the cowboy theme, I’ve nabbed a bit of phrasing from Michael Chapman for this mix.Check out the trackless and stream below.

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Trummors

Over the course of their last few albums, Trummors, the duo of David Lerner and Anne Cunningham have carved out their personal cavern in the space of Cosmic Americana, well before the current wave began to crest. The pair ditched the East Coast for New Mexico, trading packed streets for pure air, vista views, and a closer handle on the alt-country confines they were beginning to inhabit. With their previous album Headlands they’d pretty much cemented the sound that crops up here, but there’s something alchemical about Dropout City that marks it among their best endeavors to date. The band struck out from the desert back to the sweltering streets of L.A. for the sessions that would birth Drop Out City and it was as far from their secluded surroundings as possible, embracing an air of collaboration that called in contemporaries to help shape the easy air that radiates around the album.

Once in the studio friends showed up and sat in, with the album blossoming into the kind of communal, comfortable ‘70s canyon classics that were spun out of late night sessions wrought from a high concentration of talent with tape to spare. Colby Buddelmeyer (The Tyde), Derek W. James (Mazzy Star, Lia Ices), Brent Rademaker (GospelbeacH, Beachwood Sparks), Clay Finch (Mapache), Dan Horne (Grateful Shred, Cass McCombs) and Eric D. Johnson (Fruit Bats) all lend a hand somewhere on Drop Out City and it quickly becomes clear that this is a record that’s special because of not only the talent of Lerner and Cunningham as songwriters, but also due to the inclusive environment they carry with them that brings so many into their fold with such open ideas.

The record captures a classic country sound — flirting with the heavy-hearted, but formative voices that lent credence to the ‘70s crossover out of psychedelic troupes. There’s a shade of Emmylou here, and by turns Graham. The honesty that surges between David and Anne is born out of that school of tradition meets turmoil and even though they seem at ease, it’s as deeply felt as anything the fabled pair might have made. Even more so, there’s the feeling that Trummors are leeching their love of the country corners to their peers, the way Parsons couldn’t help but make but instill a passion for twang among his brother Byrds. As David has already shared here, bands like Cowboy, circling the Allmans stable are heavy on their mind and that Byrds connection gets deeper with a cover of “Tulsa County.” The Byrds lifted their version from songwriter Pamela Polland, who released solo works in the early ‘70s following her work with The Gentle Soul. This song is almost a talisman of the album, a reclaimed nugget of weary country given back its voice after years of sitting among a more celebrated band’s back catalog. Drop Out City is just such a record — reverent, relevant, and full of a bittersweet bite that makes moments easier to endure with each note that wafts from the speakers. This one should shuttle to the top of your 2020 necessities.




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Nick Mitchell Maiato – “Show Yourself”

Global pandemic has caused no shortage of disappointments — between cancelled tours, loss of revenue stream for musicians, and shaky ground for venues across the world — but hearing that it’s derailed a third One Eleven Heavy that was on its way to being recorded in Nashville this year definitely lands with a certain pang in the heart. The band’s Nick Mitchel Maiato had a full crop of songs written that he’d been passing between himself and band members in the run up, but rather than sit on them and stew Nick’s decided to swerve from this being a 111H record into a solo jaunt that retains the same spirit that’s blossomed in the band over the past few years. It’s always a bold move to lead with a 9+ minute single but those who’ve seen the band live and in their element know that this is just the kind of deep vibe dive that exemplifies what Nick, James, Dan, and Hans have been brewing when they stretch out.

“Show Yourself” pounces on the classic jam aesthetic that Nick’s been gnawing at with the Heavies, corralling New Riders and Mighty Baby into a sunshine-swathed tangle that’s pushing Crazy Horse into the creek to cool off. The song works through time changes so easily they barely register, not neck snapping into new gears but subtly mutating into grooves that grow in all directions. The accompanying video is a delightful barrage of imagery that’s just as malleable and kaleidoscopic in its own sepia soaked way. While I’m wistful thinking how these songs might have had a few three part harmonies and the plunk of Chew’s piano threaded through them, I’m happy to see Nick get his due on the solo slate. Plus, I know that a third album is still on the horizon, making this kind of a bonus Heavy in its own way. Those chasing the tail of Cosmic Americana would do well to pick this up when it lands on Was Its Das? October 2nd.

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Garcia Peoples – “One At A Time”

I’m not sure if it’s the most pressing issue of lockdown lifestyle, but the absence of Garcia Peoples’ shows has been felt fairly hard around here. The band’s built for the stage. It’s where they thrive, where they evolve, where they commune with the room sweat to create the next symbiotic stretch of cosmic comedown. That said, the band has become, increasingly, creatures of the studio in the past few years. With the release of One Step Behind they’ve crossed over into creating epics of tape transference that extend the alchemy on stage to the studio setting. They keep the momentum in motion with Night Cap At Wit’s End. The new record was recorded over nine months with Jeff Ziegler (Chris Forsyth, The War on Drugs) and the first whiff of the album, “One At A Time” finds the band shutting out some of their sunnier impulses in exchange for the reclusive, edgy, drug-induced lockjaw of the mid ‘70s.

The song sees the band begin to leave the obvious touchstones of their sound behind and merge their natural ability to find groove and explode it onstage with with the living organism of the studio environment. Acoustics play a bigger part here, injecting a bit of JJ Cale sweat, but that’s not where this one ends up, not by a long shot. Gubler’s keys are beginning to play a bigger part as well, so the fertile stench of prog rears its head, but that’s not where this leaves us either. Instead, “One At A Time” is as constantly shifting as anything the band has done, while feeling more surefooted than they’ve ever been. Its we, the listener, who rotate around them in flux, in thrall to the sound and where it goes. The band’s stirring the cloud cover and we’re just dodging the drops. If, somehow, Garcia Peoples escaped your view before now, this is the time to lock in. The record lands October 9th on Beyond Beyond is Beyond. Check out the excellent video created by labelmate Kendra Amalie above.



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The Sunset Canyoneers

The California coast is always fertile ground when it comes to Cosmic American Music and Cosmic Country in particular. Adding to a scene that’s already packed with faves like Pacific Range, GospelbeacH, and Mapache, Sunset Canyoneers pick up on the twang-simmered ease that lends itself so well to the salt-scented airs of their surrounding environs. As befits their inclusion on Spainish label You Are The Cosmos’ roster, the band focuses on breezy pop harmonies but tinge them with a low-swung sweetness, jangle and slide-dipped sound that’s heir to an amalgam of Big Star, New Riders of the Purple Sage, and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Though, at their most pure, the band seems to be distilling those same influences through the lens of aughts faves like The Tyde or The Stands.

The band’s pop penchant, sky-high, three-part harmonies and tight format set them apart bit from their contemporaries, who often dig into the folk, or extended jam sides of the spectrum. While Sunset Canyoneers feel like they might be able to stretch the boundaries of a few of these live, their sound is built on crisp pop tracks that are dressed up in Western shirts. It’s a shift from quite a few of the members’ previous projects, but that’s not to say that they don’t pull off their new sound amiably. When they slip off the twang and lean into the warm breeze of pop on “As Far As I Can Tell,” there’s a hint at where the players are coming from, yet it sits alongside the Cosmic Country without too much of a change in temperature. The marriage of indie pop and psych-draped country comes through most prominently, making their enthusiasm for the sound an infectious part of the process. You can feel that Powers and the band are having a good time and in the end that’s the feeling that permeates and the vibe that radiates.




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Trummors – “Late Arriver”

If, after the last slip out of the Trummors camp, you still needed some inspiration to get this on your watchlist, the band cinches the necessity with “Late Arriver.” The second single off of the album is combed back further in a honeyed twang, playing up the country comfort of the duo’s latest album. Harmonies entwine from Anne and David, giving this a nod to Richard and Linda Thompson if they’d been collaborating heavily with New Riders at any point in their career. The strums are wide and winding on this one and the pedal steel is tinged with sunset colors that paint the desert surroundings in which they find themselves ensconced. The record is out August 21st from Ernest Jenning Record Co.


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Best of 2020 (so far)

2020’s been a hell of a year, and one that doesn’t feel like definitive statements do it justice. Still, no matter how many seismic changes have occurred during the year, the music has been a source of solace and inspiration. The fact that so many artists have had their livelihoods upended gives it a slightly sour note, especially for some that may have been working years to let these statements out into the world. Keep hitting the Bandcamp revenue shares to support artists and labels directly. If you need some suggestions there’s quite a few below. Keep in mind that ‘best’ is by no means definitive, but these are some of my favorites. We all know that Run The Jewels hits hard, but someone else is gonna tell you about it better than I ever could. Still lots to look forward to musically in the second half, but the first part of the year has been a bounty to be sure.

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Trummors – “Silver City Blues”

A sun-streaked new track slips out today in advance of the new Trummors LP, Dropout City on Ernest Jenning Record Co. The song is a faded-denim dose of cosmic country that ambles in on auburn strums and swooning harmonies. David Lerner and Ann Cunningham left the city steel for New Mexico’s grand expanses a few years back and the desert dust makes its presence felt on the low-light simmer of “Silver City Blues.” The song slides in on buttery leads, breezy harmonies, and a sense of ease that’s hard to resist. The band’s been building up to a release that sounds this effortless and lived-in over the past few years, but it’s hard to deny that this is a high-water mark for their brand of alt-country saunter. Keep an ear out for more from Dropout City as this is only a taste of what the band’s put together for 2020. Move it to the top of the watchlist.




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Rose City Band

Its been no secret around here that the sophomore LP from Rose City Band has hit hard. Expanding on the debut’s humble roots in private press psych, country, and Americana, the second offering from Ripley Johnson’s solo outfit refines his vision and takes a light dusting to the dollar-bin veneer. The scrub up doesn’t degrade the charms though, and the more refined RCB doesn’t lose a single ounce of the endearing value of Rip’s sound. Largely, RCB leans further into the streaked skies of Cosmic Country this time around, with a good dose of twang and ramble seeping into the strings underneath a blanket of heat-wave warble that seals in the saunter. Johnson forgoes a long psychedelic excursion like the debut’s “Fear Song,” this time around, instead focussing on set of songs that build to a simmer with just enough time to froth without foaming over. I

ts a tighter record, but that doesn’t mean he’s not interested in letting those liquid silver guitar lines shine. The hallmark sound of lysergic licks still graces the record, leaving Johnson’s unique stamp on it. While still paying homage to his original crop of past masters — Relatively Clean Rivers, Jim Sullivan, KAK, and Curt Newbury, — the vibes on Summerlong seem to be swinging full well into Western nodes of The First National Band, Timbercreek, or Country Funk. The shift is subtle but fits Ripley well. His honey n’ dust croon lays low like a fog over the horizons of these songs, which amble slow and choogle slightly less than he has in the past, but what they give up in rollick they make up in melt. Though, as the album wafts into its second half, the temperature heats up just a bit and the breeze dies down.

“Morning Light” picks up the pace, but not the urgency, still laying back into sunshine ease, but “Reno Shuffle” lets the night in and a bit of heat lightning, hinting at a bit of danger in the distance. For the most part it lounges in languid moments and spot-on shimmer. The album is a perfect companion to hazy summer days as they turn into warm summer nights. There’s been a wealth of entries to the Cosmic Americana canon over the last few years and this one’s standing near the top. While it was on constant rotation here, its possible that the debut from Rose City Band got lost among the releases last year. Hoping that same fate doesn’t befall this, because its definitely edging its way towards the top of the list of albums for 2020. Don’t sleep on this one.



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