Posts Tagged ‘Curation Records’

Farmer Dave and the Wizards of West

Been a good year for the return of Farmer Dave Scher. The Beachwood Sparks / All Night Radio alum has never left the sphere for too long, playing with Kurt Vile, Jenny Lewis, Elvis Costello, Will Oldham, and The Skiffle Players, but he returned with a solo EP release last year that explored new territory and now the debut from Farmer Dave and the Wizards of West surfaces. The new venture marks his first full length in ten years, breaking some new ground, while leaving Dave’s penchant for nebulous psychedelia in tact. More sun-baked than his works with All Night Radio, who always hit a slid more into the charming chimes of Byrds territory, if the band had found themselves enamored with the Echoplex, the new record finds itself tossed in the froth and reveling in the weightlessness.

On this eponymous debut Scher and his assembled players push heavier than he ever really has in the past, not to the point of distortion, but the jangles are replaced with stadium-sized organs, and the cosmic waves of guitar that get lost deep in the prog puddled waters of the early ‘70s. Though, to be fair, he manages to eschew the genre’s density, still finding his songs lifted through the smoke and above the assembled crowds in psychedelic glee. The Wizards of West feel like they’re enjoying the float as well, surfing the strange magic between psych, surf, and prog with little care to where they land. Yet, the record sticks its ground, feeling like an extension of where Scher left of a decade ago and where Curation seems headed as a new outpost of cosmic refuge in the modern age.



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Beachwood Sparks – S/T

While the sounds that filter through on Beachwood Sparks’ debut take their roots some 25-30 years prior, the band stands among a new wave of Cosmic Americana artists from the early aughts who would set the swell going long into our current era. There aren’t really any tarnished spots in their winding run, which fell around ’00-’02 and then picked up a decade later with a second wind pushing the same cosmic sails. The Sub Pop years in particular hold a special place in my heart and it seems that the bulk of the praise from the period often falls on their sophomore LP, Once We Were Trees, as the band really begins to leave the confines of the Earth and exist among the gauzy amber glow of the clouds. A year earlier the band laid the groundwork for that album with an equally sublime ache. The record bears the marks of time well, sounding as much a lost country-psych classic as any dug up from the ‘70s.

As their run on Sub Pop ended, the catalog was left to languish without the proper attention it deserves. Now with Brent Rademaker’s Curation Records picking up some Cosmic American slack with a slew of new releases, the rights have come back home and Beachwood is getting a long overdue reissue of the debut album on double LP along with a second disc of bonus material that rounds up a few rarities along with the band’s contributions to the Sub Pop Singles Club. With a current wave of newfound Cosmic Americana voices taking shape, its nice to have one of the Aughts’ best back on the racks reminding us why they were such a key voice in the first place. That gorgeous double gatefold doesn’t hurt either.



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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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Farmer Dave & The Wizards of West – “Right Vibration”

After some years laying low in the lineup, Farmer Dave Scher finds himself at the crest of two records of late. Already letting an EP out under his own name he follows swiftly with the new unit Farmer Dave & The Wizards of West. The first single from the album is the organ-riddled chug of “Right Vibration.” The band sees Scher reunite with The Tyde’s Ben Knight and the pair immediately sink into a lush brand of psychedelia that’s floating through the froth with a bit more rhythmic heft than their past projects, but just as much nebulous ease. Both songwriters have been known for their prowess as session players with credits on albums from Beachwood Sparks, Mystic Chords of Memory, Vetiver, Jenny Lewis, and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Bill between them, but here they both lock into the kind of dosed, yet delightful take that has been pervasive in their catalogs. The eponymous record is out January 22nd from Curation.

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Trevor Beld Jimenez – “Comeback Kid”

The past few years have been a blessing of cosmic country, often leaning towards an embrace of the past — landing between the Burritos’ blurred swagger and Crazy Horse’s toughened wander into the rough hills. Veteran songwriter Trevor Beld Jimenez slips between the salt-scrubbed breezes to bring a vision that’s pulled away from this Kodachrome prism of ‘70s country rock. He’s still reaching into the auburn arms of the California sun, but this is steeped in a more AOR, AM radio softness. “Comeback Kid” turns away from the glare that others embrace to find itself aligning with an unlikely love of Bread and America. The former’s Baby I’m-A Want You feels like it’s left a particular impression on Jimenez. As a contributor to several RSTB faves (GospelbeacH, Dios, Fruit Bats) Trevor’s no novice when it comes to the sounds that touch the wavy end of the country spectrum, but the clarity and care he imparts to the song gives a new life to the rock radio staples that sometimes wind up maligned in hindsight.

The song appears on the upcoming I Like It Here which ropes in a large roster of impressive talent Clay Finch, Pearl Charles, Nelson Bragg, Bob Glaub, Kacey Johansing, and Eric D. Johnson. The record lands November 13th on Curation Records.



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Pacific Range

It’s hard to know what type of tone to strike these days — whether a bath of anger is what’s called for or the cleansing spirit of solace is in order. Maybe the answer is that there are days for both. I’d like to think that the angst of 2020 was far, far from the minds that made High Up On The Mountain, when it was written and recorded. The debut LP from West Coast Cosmic comrades Pacific Range captures a certain strain of calm that’s been sorely missing from my life of late. The album is awash in the salt-scrubbed tones of California and ingrained with the unblemished invigoration of mountain air. While it might not be a West Coast concept, the band captures the aural equivalent of that perfect pitch of blue that comes through in Spring sky — the kind that chases away the clouds of winter, hung with the first tinge of warmth and the the promise of a break from the crushing despair of winter months. The current wave of Cosmic Americana that’s rolled through has oddly favored the East Coast (aside from Howlin’ Rain I suppose) and the bands inclusion in the sunshine sway of the sound feels like it fills a particular gap.

While many of the others are heavily dependent on the Crazy Horse and Little Feat axis, Pacific Range seem to be falling into a more Allman descendent strain, and in many occasions the works of Dicky solo. Sure, they pick up quite a few of the tangential vibes as well — the lesser knowns that found their way in the wake of the Dead, The Allmans and post-Caravanserai Santana. There’s shades of Help Yourself, Mountain Bus, and Turnquist Remedy all threaded through the album. The band trickles down the same tributaries that cut through the canyons and make them their own. There’s a boogie that drives High Up, but there’s something more at play here.

While there’s the familiar deep-seated sway that offers itself up to extended jams in the live setting, there is a tenderness that’s not as present in some of their contemporaries. “Boulevard Indigo,” has a mournful country-folk strain that hangs on the air like dew. “Guiding the Mast” sounds like its was sliced off of either of the last couple of Mapache albums, and its not surprising that the band’s Clay Finch does indeed show up as a guest player among the tracks offered up here. Pacific Range complicate the cosmic winds with their own dusting of bittersweet heartache. There’s plenty here that gives in to the groove but just as much that lets it linger down to a halt, letting the soft breeze suffice as just the right amount of movement. This one seems to have been lost in terms of deserving fanfare, especially out East, but its a necessary pickup in times needing a respite for sure.





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Pacific Range – “High Upon The Mountain”

West Coast psych searchers Pacific Range have been cooling themselves on the Cosmic Americana winds for a few years yet, but their first proper LP is just now landing at Curation Records. The band’s shared the title track to High Up On The Mountain today and its radiating with silver shivers of country psych bliss. The band is bred on a cocktail of Allman Brothers sunshower shakedowns, Mountain Bus low-gear choogle, shimmers of Help Yourself and, naturally, a requisite dose of The Dead in their veins. The band’s debut, wrapped in an eye-popping Brian Blomberth cover, features Duane Betts (son of Dicky), Sam & Clay from Mapache, and Jade Castrinos among others. “High Upon The Mountain” opens up the LP, and there aren’t many better introductions to the band’s canyon cradled brand of West Coast breeze than this right here. Built on a low-slung guitar line and sweetly stung harmonies, tuck into this one and get prepped for the LP on 3/27.



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