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Once We Were Trees
     

Once We Were Trees

by Beachwood Sparks
 
"Traditional West Coast psychedelic country" is what California's Beachwood Sparks have called their style, and that's an apt label. Although they arose from the indie-rock community and have ties to the Lilys and the Pernice Brothers, their style is firmly rooted in the Byrds (circa The Notorious Byrd

Overview

"Traditional West Coast psychedelic country" is what California's Beachwood Sparks have called their style, and that's an apt label. Although they arose from the indie-rock community and have ties to the Lilys and the Pernice Brothers, their style is firmly rooted in the Byrds (circa The Notorious Byrd Brothers), Buffalo Springfield, and the Flying Burrito Brothers, with vocal harmonies that sometimes recall the Beach Boys or the Mamas & the Papas. Given the overt retro-isms, Once We Were Trees could end up frighteningly nostalgic; instead, it's frightfully good. The influences blend more smoothly than they did on the band's self-titled debut, and Trees works even better as a coherent album than a collection of independent songs (which, perhaps, is a retro concept in itself). Guitars -- especially 12-strings and pedal steels -- ring, chime, and slide; vocals rise and fall in gauzy unison; keyboards emerge occasionally to lend color. "Confusion Is Nothing New" relies on what sounds like an electric 12-string line to convey a reassuringly hopeful message: "Don't be afraid, I've lost my way some too/Tomorrow you could start anew." "The Sun Surrounds Me" sounds like a great lost Mike Nesmith song -- that's high praise -- and they transform Sade's "By Your Side" into a sincere country ballad. It may be tempting to play spot-the-influence throughout Once We Were Trees, but that could detract from the genuine pleasure to be had from enjoying Beachwood Sparks' skillfully guided journeys through the past.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Matt Reasor
Throughout Once We Were Trees, the sophomore release from the Beachwood Sparks on Sub Pop Records, the SoCal indie cowboys deliver an album displaying astounding musical, songwriting, and repertory growth from their critically acclaimed self-titled debut. Previously, the Beachwood Sparks were labeled a retro extension of the late-'60s country-rock icons Buffalo Springfield and the Flying Burrito Brothers. On Once We Were Trees, the Beachwood Sparks prove themselves as one of the most exciting subgenre leaders in the current indie rock world. The mid-tempo groove of "The Sun Surrounds Me" illustrates the songwriting growth the Sparks have achieved in the last three years, followed by the somewhat campy yet cool "You Take the Gold," which reverts to a simple carefree singalong melody and guitar-driven hook. One notable track is a revamped version of the adult contemporary Sade hit "By Your Side," which stands as the album's "must listen" track.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/09/2001
Label:
Sub Pop
UPC:
0098787054521
catalogNumber:
545
Rank:
220436

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