SYNDICATE
Posted by: Dave on October 9, 2001 at 11:24 pm

“California Dreamin’” was the John Phillips-penned phrase that summed up the sound and ideals of an era. From the communal, acid-soaked chants of the Jefferson Airplane, to the sunshiny daydreams of the Beach Boys, to the warm and earnest musings of The Flying Burrito Brothers and Buffalo Springfield, the Golden State’s late ‘60s music was awash with hippie optimism. Lately, L.A.-based Beachwood Sparks has been trying to recapture those lackadaisical but hopeful vibes of the past. Their second album “Once We Were Trees” is practically an homage to their Californian forefathers. The ubiquitous twang of pedal steel and the earthy richness of the vocals and harmonies create textbook country-rock, while trippy reverb and swirling organs add occasional splashes of psychedelia. The only clues that the album isn’t some lost recording from the time of peace, love and mind-altering substances are the Radiohead-like, fuzzy space trips in “Let It Run” and “Once We Were Trees,” and the hip-hoppy, guitar-scratching outro of “The Sun Surrounds Me.” Otherwise, romanticized lines like “Close your eyes to see a better place for you and me” (“Close Your Eyes”) and “Don’t be late, live for happiness” (“Let It Run”) are so gentle and naïve, they could have been conceived over 30 years ago. They may be little more than a tightly polished throwback, but what a gorgeous and strikingly authentic one.

– Dave Powers
(As posted 10/9/01 on 3wk.com)



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