Posts Tagged ‘Drugdealer’

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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Drugdealer

The second LP from Michael Collins under the Drugdealer moniker refines, redecorates, and relaxes in the studio-rat 70’s foxhole he’d dug for himself on his debut. After his psych soft launches in Run DMT and Salvia Plath, Drugdealer has become Collins’ haven for outsized ‘70s pop and he’s attracted similar-minded slick travelers and psychedelic savants to come and lay their lacquered licks, honeyed vocals, and perfectly coifed contributions onto his pop vision. So, naturally, frequent collaborator and fellow master of ‘70s AOR brilliance Natalie Mering (Weyes Blood) drops in for a vocal contribution on “Honey.” Harley Hill-Richmond (Harley and the Hummingbird) adds a Laurel Canyon sunset to “Lonely” and country crooner Dougie Poole shifts “Wild Motion” into a down gear that freezes the album’s honey into an amber-hued heirloom that almost pops it into a permanent soft-focus time delay.

Collins’ dedication to a more opulent time in pop music is admirable if also indulgently nostalgic. Songs like “Lost In My Dream,” with their horn stabs and hammock sway could easily hang with contemporary(ish) travelers like Sloan or Jenny Lewis. Those artists have found their footing in lush productions that tend to feel timeless, but despite protestations Drugdealer almost always conjures up the past. There’s a feeling that you’ve heard Collins’ songs somewhere before, but the exact names seem lost in a wood-paneled labyrinth of memories that keep the references from pushing just past the tip of your tongue. Still, if Collins and his crew weren’t so good at what they do, they wouldn’t be able to pull it off at all.

Aside from his kindred spirit Mering, Collins has been in the orbit of Ariel Pink (who doesn’t show up his time around) and Mac Demarco, who finds his way behind the boards to give the album its late-night luster. The spirit of all of those artists has long been to whittle their own images out of vintage wood and with Raw Honey Drugdealer is proving to be a contender among any of them. But for an album that’s dressed up as the kind of studio campout that Brian Wilson once shepherded, the record could use just a little tightening at the seams. It often feels like a soundtrack with some truly golden cuts sprinkled in, but it also chafes in the same way. Collins is becoming more confident as the focus of his albums, but he still hands over the reigns a bit too often to guest vocalists. It would be great to keep the momentum built through the run of songs 2-6, or even go all-in on a full collaboration between Drugdealer and Weyes Blood. The future will tell what’s next, but for now Raw Honey offers up some future lost classics drifting on a sea of AM static.



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Drugdealer – “Honey”

The second single from the sunset slathered new LP from Drugdealer reaches out this week and it features a vocal contribution from his longtime collaborator Weyes Blood. The pair have always managed to shift time in a way that drapes the listener in memories of the past without truly succumbing to the kitsch of nostalgia. It’s the feeling of childhood FM radio as you fall asleep in the car with the sun on your face – a sense of coming home, safety, security, serenity. There’s more than a little George Harrison coursing through the strings here and Collins lays out an inviting musical landscape for Natalie Mering to luxuriate in. Her vocals here, as on her own eternally classic compositions, are tinged in sepia tones and tugging at the emotions like a permanent lump in your throat. Mering is just one of a few great vocal ringers that Michael Collins employs on his latest album, which is proving to be his most complete and immersive album to date. Pick it up from Mexican Summer on April 19th.



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Drugdealer – “Fools”

To accept Drugdealer is to buy into the notion that reverence for influences can become so fervent that it scratches up against the edges of schtick. There’s a fine line between what Fred Armisen is doing with Blue Jean Committee and what Michael Collins and crew are doing with Drugdealer. It shouldn’t matter so much – 60’s adherents are a rampant among garage and alt-pop types. Riffling through the racks of Nilsson, Fleetwood Mac, Todd Rundgren and Carol King records should be met with the same acceptance for indulgence. This is specially true since here, with the aid of fellow smooth sailor Mac DeMarco producing, Collins nails the kind of studio rat sloughed confidence and slick earworm styles that dominated the AOR airwaves. Naturally these tropes only came to be seen as passe by a generation of ’90s kids railing against the music that dominated their parent’s car radio – hence the rub. “Fools” is almost uncanny in its appropriation and deadly in its accuracy in mining groove-baiting cocaine-cooled visions of Laurel Canyon folk heroes gone glossy. Love it or lump it (I fall in the former camp), you got to admit they’re pulling it off.



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