Tarnished Gold

Beachwood Sparks

Tarnished Gold
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Tarnished Gold

Beachwood Sparks

Some albums were made to be played on a Saturday night but 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.

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.

The Tarnished Gold is the work of the classic Beachwood Sparks lineup: singer/guitarist Chris Gunst, singer/bassist Brent Rademaker, singer/multi-instrumentalist Farmer Dave Scher, and drummer Aaron Sperske, with invaluable support from guitarist and longtime friend Ben Knight (The Tyde).

For the sessions, the band added guitarists Knight and Neal Casal (solo artist and former member of Ryan Adams and the Cardinals), Dan Horne on pedal steel, Gunst’s wife Jen Cohen, Sparks’ very first drummer Jimi Hey, Brent’s brother Darren (leader of The Tyde) and L.A. indie-rock maestro Ariel Pink. Once We Were Trees producer Thom Monahan returned to his familiar spot behind the console.

The album finds the band, chemistry as strong as ever, pushing themselves to make a truly memorable record.

“We’re treading in areas that we never thought we’d go on this record,” says Rademaker. “It’s great to be making the kind of music that I like with my best friends and favorite musicians. The triumph was not only that it came out so listenable and good but also that we made the most of just being together. And if this turns out to be the last Beachwood Sparks record, we can take satisfaction in the fact that we went out on a high note. At any rate, I know I’ll be listening to this record for the rest of my life.”

Track Listing:

  1. Forget The Song
  2. Sparks Fly Again
  3. Mollusk
  4. Tarnished Gold
  5. Water From The Well
  6. Talk About Lonesome
  7. Leave That Light On
  8. Nature’s Light
  9. No Queremos Oro
  10. Earl Jean
  11. Alone Together
  12. The Orange Grass Special
  13. Goodbye

Review

beachwood-sparks1Life moves in slow motion, time to smell the freshly mown grass, gaze at the stars and watch the ocean roll in. Welcome to the world of Beachwood Sparks and their warm, dreamy journey through summer afternoons or log fire winter nights.

The Tarnished Gold, their first release since 2003, sees the Californian band continue on from previous gems with more atmospheric, roots alt-rock, pedal-steel charm.

From the warm and beautiful opener, ‘Forget The Song’, to the sensitive closer, ‘Delicate’, and everything in between, Beachwood Sparks deliver a classic.


Lou Fulco works as a bookseller at Readings Hawthorn.

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