10 March 2011

Beachwood Sparks - 2002 - Make the Cowboy Robots Cry

Quality: 4.25 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4 out of 5

Although Beachwood Sparks never came through with a proper third album, they did crank out this wonderful EP, which probably contains their best music. While maintaining true to their borrowed credo of 'cosmic American music,' the band modernizes it's sound somewhat with some synth runs and stylistic acknowledgement of the indie scene as of 2002. Along with the now expected nods to the Byrds, Gram Parsons, and the Buffalo Springfield, there are also echoes of peers such as Gorky's Zygotic Mynci and Grandaddy. This is especially good news for Chris Gunst - the music here is a much better fit for his vocal style. I'd say the band found their niche here - it's too bad that this is the end of the line so far for Beachwood Sparks.

The EP is bookended with the band's absolute best songs. "Drinkwater" is a trip-and-a-half, taking an awesome guitar part and dreamy vocals through sections of hazy reverb and full blast guitar buzz. "Ghost Dance 1492" is like the late 60's, tripped out Beach Boys moving their operation to an Arkansas hippy commune while simultaneously cranking up the amplifiers and drafting an insane acid guitarist into the band (not like that band's turdish 'Bluebirds Over the Mountain'). The meat inside the sandwich is pretty groovy as well. "Hibernation" is a very creepy ballad with a hint of crazy Roger Waters' era Pink Floyd wafting around in the mix, while "Sing Your Thoughts" brings in a fine mellotron-like part. Every track here has something interesting to offer.

Even as a 30 minute EP, this clocks in longer than some classic LPs that these guys were definitely listening to like the Byrds The Notorious Byrd Brothers and Younger Than Yesterday, or the Beach Boys' Friends, so I think it's safe to think of it as a proper album given the band's slim discography. And what an album it is! It jettisons some of the authentic sounding 60's sounds that the band previously did so well, but the modernist touches create an full-blooded identity for Beachwood Sparks that is surely worth your ear.


SiamTwin said...

that seems to be the same link to Once We Were Trees, unless my browser is playing tricks with me!

thanks again for the great music.

Anonymous said...


Collin said...

Holy shit Doctor! This is totally ridiculous! How is it possible for a band such as this to remain under my radar?
Thanks for all the good work you do. Definitely my favorite blog.
And if you are ever swinging through Missoula, Montana contact me and I'll have you as a guest DJ on my 60's specialty program.

Miles said...

Thank you for reminding me of Beachwood Sparks. I lost interest with '...Trees,' but think I'd probably like it better today. I never did get around to this title though, so thank you.