Beachwood Sparks (Sub Pop)

SXSW Records

Record Reviews

Beachwood Sparks

(Sub Pop)

Answering any lingering questions about what they've been up to since departing for the great beyond, Gram Parsons and Jerry Garcia have obviously been channeling themselves into Beachwood Sparks. The result is a plush melodicism and the shoegazing aura of the L.A. quartet's self-titled Sub Pop debut, which lands somewhere between Elephant 6 and the Everly Brothers. Even the cheerier numbers on the disc -- the Buffalo Springfield-like opener "Desert Skies" chief among them -- retain a tinge of emptiness, illustrating that broken hearts still ache no matter how much orange sunshine you drop; no matter how sparkling your Rickenbacker chimes, she's still not coming back. It's very pretty stuff, but the overwhelming sense of melancholy makes it difficult to keep smiling for very long. Still, a Byrd in the hand is better than one in the ground, and the percolating "doo-to-doos" of "Deep Sea Miner" hold out at least some hope that Beechwood's unwavering tenacity will one day enable them to step out of the shadows and into the light. (Emo's Jr., Friday, 10pm)

***

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