Some albums were made to be played on a Saturday night. The Tarnished Gold was meant to be played on a Sunday afternoon. Listening to Beachwood Sparks’ first album in 11 years is like being under cobalt blue skies and smelling the night-blooming jasmine on a perfect spring day in Los Angeles. “That’s definitely the idea,” founding member Brent Rademaker confirms.
The world has caught up to Beachwood Sparks since they came out of nowhere in 2000 with their self-titled debut album, bringing new life to what Gram Parsons famously described as “cosmic American music,” and recapturing L.A.‘s laidback but vibrant heyday back in the late ’60s and early ’70s. At the time, this kind of harmony-rich, irony-free music was rare.
After their second album, 2002’s trippier Once We Were Trees, and the decidedly offbeat 2003 EP Make the Cowboy Robots Cry, Beachwood Sparks called it quits. But during the subsequent half decade, the indie music scene began to change with the appearance, and wholesale acceptance, of multi-voiced throwback groups from Fleet Foxes to Bon Iver to Grizzly Bear.
Clearly, the time is right for an album that stands as the purest expression of this hallowed form to appear in the 21st century, as the planets at long last align for this single-minded band.
Greil Marcus liked to refer back to "The Old, Weird America" when discussing a certain famous set of recordings that emanated from a Woodstock cabin basement. ALLAH-LAS sound like the Old, Weird Los Angeles: Strains of true surfing music, American harmonies, Sunset Strip backbeat, desert ramble filtered through Goldstar Sessioneers; That pre-fuzz pedal 'electrified folk' music and pop groups hitting that California sound with the tambourine on just the right beat.
When you hear it, you see things — Venice's arches lit at night with the ocean in the distance; mid-century hamburger stands and slow-moving main drags in residential nights; Teen-age revues at 400 person ballrooms; Ferus Gallery beatniks; bungalows in canyons; hidden deco stairsteps peeking from leafy hillsides; kustom kars and dovetails and chicks in OP shorts with long, long hair. Like a Dennis Hopper photo come to life. You look at their well worn Fender guitars, their real surfer tans, their dusty suede boots - and you see it's a sound natural to them; This isn't an act. - Nick Waterhouse (PRES records)
Performing with: Sweet Chariots & DJ Britt Govea