The Echocentrics

Echo Hotel (Nacional Records)

Texas Platters

Guitarist and producer Adrian Quesada remains best known for his stints in Austin's Brownout and Grupo Fantasma, but his most daring musical ideas have always been stashed away in side projects like Ocote Soul Sounds and now the Echocentrics. Like its predecessor, debut Sunshadows in 2011, Echo Hotel invokes the big skies and arid climes of the American Southwest. There's his trademark Latin flourishes, but the album's also equal parts desert blues, spaced-out psychedelia, heady electronica, and country twang. As with Damon Albarn's Gorillaz, Echocentrics boast a cohesive sound born from a single creative vision malleable enough to accommodate a diverse guest list. Natalia Clavier (Thievery Corporation) and Brazil's Tita Lima, lone vocal luminaries on Sunshadows, return to add ethereal grooves on "Muerto en Vida" and "O Sol," respectively. Alex Maas (Black Angels) leads the brooding funeral march of "Death of a Rockstar" and laces a bittersweet duet with Jazz Mills on "Canyon." White Denim's James Petralli mines Spanish Gold on "Staring at the Ceiling," the disc's likely hit. The album's best moment is its most unlikely: Quesada coaxing a groovy vocal performance out of morose singer-songwriter Bill Callahan over a swirling desert-funk track on "Gettin' Away With Your Gal." Echo Hotel isn't quite as cohesive as its precursor, but it offers a far more expansive and illuminating trip. (CD release: Thu., June 23, Parish)


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