...their Sub Pop debut makes like punk and techno never happened...
Surf may be the most famous echo down the years when folks try to plant a sound in California but there is a whisper, equally evocative, of golden daze, that ushers down from the valleys and deserts. This is the sagebrush sound, Duderanch Country, the Laurel Canyon outlaw posse which once rode into downtown Hollywood on a Rickenbacker sunset, pedal steel pressed hard to the dancefloor.
These Cosmic Cowboys – Gram’s Byrds, the Burritos, CSN&Y and, later, The Eagles – leaned well back on C&W the way, oh, Oasis lean back on The Beatles. But these guys weren’t just shooting duds. They meant business. This was the time of ‘Nam, and the rediscovery of Western roots was a two-pronged ambush on Uncle Sam – a yearning for a mythical past when men were men and stood tall and honest (as opposed to the dawg-faced swindlers in the White House), and a nancy-boy subversion of the main Yank macho hombre stereotype that annoyed the fuck out of all the John Wayne gook-haters.
Beachwood Sparks are a living, breathing, shit-kicking homage to that era. Dressed in faded denim and repro Nudie, their play is Cowboys and Indie-‘uns and their Sub Pop debut makes like punk and techno never happened. Formed by members of minor lo-fi marginals the Lilys, Further and Strictly Ballroom, the Sparks trade solely in retro authenticity which sounds like it should stink. But it doesn’t.
Maybe it’s the dullard homogeny of rock right now but self-consciously lank’n’stoned stuff like ‘Desert Skies’, ‘Ballad Of Never Rider’ and ‘Canyon Ride’ whiffs just as fresh as Tijuana bud. Cool and daft in equal measures – Beachwood Sparks; toke ’em or leave ’em.