Beachwood Sparks: Once We Were Trees

Record Review

Beachwood Sparks

Once We Were Trees (Sub Pop)

Imagine four small town buddies hopping a Greyhound for L.A. in the late Sixties. They've known each other since they sang in choir together. Between them, they've got one comb and a deep passion for Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde and the Flying Burrito Brothers' Gilded Palace of Sin. They hit town, meet up with some girls, and score a few hits of electric sunshine down on the beach. With someone else's guitars, at someone else's pad, they start playing their music. Their four-way harmonies soar to meet that now-familiar, West Coast country jangle, tart pop songs blending into a deep, rich mulch out of which melodies grow like wildflowers. There's something about trees, too. "Confusion Is Nothing New" they cry, complaining "The Sun Surrounds Me" ("and all I'm singing are the dark times") -- Roger McGuinn buried somewhere in the wood pile. "You Take the Gold," a reedier version of Gram Parsons ("you take the gold and I'll take the forest"), gives up its greater glory in ringing crescendos, just as "Let It Run" encases its Utopic promise in a hymnal collision of roots and pop. The banjo clip-clop of "Old Manatee" ("'cause the only trees are in our minds") and the hazy swoon of "Banjo Press Conferences" kiss away the pining romanticism of "The Hustler" ("like the leaves, my love's fallen away"). The clamoring cantor of "Your Selfish Ways," the fluttering "By Your Side," and jamoboreeing "Jugglers Revenge" set the stage for a crashing climax: "Once I stood as a tree, surrounded by beauty and love. Now it's all been covered over, with no room to stretch as I grow." Just imagine.

****

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Sheverb
Chapter One (Record Review)

Doug Freeman, Dec. 14, 2018

Texas Platters
Kendall Beard
Here Comes Trouble (Record Review)

Doug Freeman, Dec. 14, 2018

More by Raoul Hernandez
Texas Platters
Grupo Fantasma
American Music Vol. VII (Record Review)

April 19, 2019

Texas Platters
Sydney Wright
Seiche (Record Review)

April 5, 2019

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle