By Alex Ward
The summer is obviously on its way. But for Los Angeles based Beachwood Sparks, it has already arrived. Being the first album the group has released on Sub Pop records for 11 years, you cannot stop from feeling excited. Sub Pop was of course the record label that released Nirvana’s first recordings, so this should mean great music guaranteed.
But hold on there, it’s not what you may expect from Sub Pop. Track 1 ‘Forget That Song’ is a very psychedelic laid back song, which sounds like a very acoustic ‘Hey Baby (Rising Sun)’ by Jimi Hendrix. Track two ‘Sparks Fly Again’ sounds more like a visit to the grand Old Opery than a rock song. But its great steel pedal guitar is very catchy. Track three is a great song with quick strumming acoustic guitar and soldier boy drumming which sounds like a clash between Crosby, Stills and Nash and John Frusciante. Lead singer Brent Rademaker has a voice like Neil Young, which shines through on title-track ‘Tarnished Gold’ and is a lovely country song.
Beachwood Sparks are a band that can sound like listening to country music on drugs or as the Daily Telegraphy put it “Country through a Kaleidoscope”. Track 5 ‘Water From a Well’ is like a painting, beautiful and picturesque and shows a different side to the band. From Crosby, Stills and Nash you cannot miss out on the whiff of Bob Dylan on ‘Talk About Lonesome’ – for me, the harmonica is a great give away. This can also be said of ‘Nature’s Light’ which is my favourite song of the album and thigh thumping ‘Orange County Special’ which is another great song.
The album is really a mix-match of great sounding lyrical beauties with same sounding songs such as ‘Leave That Light On’ and ‘Alone Together’. However, Beachwood Sparks like to leave that little surprise in the form of Spanish acoustic ‘No Queremos Oro’ on Track 9. The album then really finishes off with country style anthem songs such as ‘Earl Jean’ with its fast picking solo, and a homely nod to ‘Oh Susanna’ in the album finish ‘Goodbye’.