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Desert Skies

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (26 Nov. 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Redeye (Cargo Stock)
  • Other Editions: Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 193,279 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Product Description

This is the previously unreleased debut album by LA-based cosmic country-rock combo the Beachwood Sparks. The album includes their first 1998 single,as well as never-heard before recordings,all carefully remastered. A must have for fans of the band,and for Southern California psychedelic pop lovers everywhere.

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By Angel Delta TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 31 Dec. 2013
Format: Audio CD
Before their eponymous debut album in 2000 the Beachwood Sparks had already recorded these country rock tracks now released for the very first time under the album title "Desert Skies". The material draws upon the sixties influences of The Flying Burrito Brothers, Gram Parsons and The Byrds but with a nod to the eighties sound of the Paisley Underground movement.

The resulting tracks presented here are pure Beachwood Sparks however and they are a revelation. The album is a warm, melodic and bittersweet evocation of turn of the century alternative country rock and the nine original songs are literate and atmospheric.

Recorded when the band was a six piece outfit, the album features lap steel, bass, guitar, keyboards, percussion and drums. From this simple line up, and recorded in a small garage, a dense, richly textured and complex layered sound emerged that would have been a credit to a professional recording studio. The wonder is that it was never released.

The tracks are uniformly splendid but the six minute jangle rock of "Sweet Julie Ann" is a minor classic and the opening track, "Desert Skies", has a melodic, sub psychedelic grandeur, propelled by steel guitar, dense percussion and strangely reminiscent of John Cale in his "Paris 1919" period.

"Make It Together" is sublime dream pop and "Canyon Ride" is a majestic, guitar infused stroll through the gardens of country rock. It is a lovely album that deserved a better fate than to have languished in a vault, unloved and unwanted, for seventeen years.
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Format: Vinyl Verified Purchase
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9acaebd0) out of 5 stars 5 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ab599f0) out of 5 stars excellent psych-country tinged power pop 18 Dec. 2013
By Charlie Quaker - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The 5th release from this Los Angeles band, which is actually their previously unreleased debut,
was originally recorded in 1997/98 and shows a completely different side to their music. These
songs have more of an indie paisley-pop twist, which later evolved into their current Americana
sound. Some excellent psych-country tinged power pop here, with a semi-raw, energetic feel
that recalls bands like The Byrds, Big Star, Rain Parade, the Beatles, and Teenage Fanclub.
Members have played in the Tyde, All Night Radio, Further, Strictly Ballroom, Lilys.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Stuart Jefferson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This sounds like...what..countrified power-pop? That and a little Neil Young mixed in here and there. Just listen to "desert skies" (sic), with it's Young/Crazy Horse sounding guitars and drums. And when you hear the bonus track "desert skies (c.o. 2 version)", that may be even closer to that N.Y./Horse sound. The vocals, the tough, chiming guitars, and the on the mark drumming--it's all there--and (arguably) maybe even better. But I'll take both versions thanks.

The song "make it together" has that occasional hard guitar sound mixed in with those patented Beachwood Sparks smooth, creamy vocals. And "time" sounds like a more arranged, "polite" Young/Crazy Horse tune. And when you listen to the original version of "time" (another bonus track), with it's short (yet great) Neil Young sounding guitar solo--wow. Plus, throw in a bit of psychedelia ("midsummer daydream" is a good example), and you have that great Beachwood Sparks sound.

But anyone who's heard their album "Beachwood Sparks" (especially) will know what I mean about the overall sound of this album. And that's not to say they're mere copyists. They're not. Yes, they built on that whole late 60's/early 70's L.A./country-rock sound, and added some psychedelia to go along with their power-pop sound. What's wrong with that?

Suffice to say if you like that first album (when the band was down to a quartet) you'll like this "first" album. Plus, it's a chance to hear the original band when they were still a six piece. This is one of those albums that the more you hear it the more you'll like it. The smooth vocals, the tough electric guitars, and the mix of instrumental sounds used by the band is uniquely cool.

I just happened to stumble across this album--it somehow slipped by me. So I thought I'd throw in my two cents worth of why I think this album is worth hearing. It's a good album--plane and simple. If you're a fan of Beachwood Sparks--get this. And do like I did--tell everyone else about this record.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a23bdd4) out of 5 stars Unqualified Success 4 Dec. 2013
By Grateful Life - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful album, not least for being so unexpected. These late 90s recordings show the band with the same combination and mastery of lyricism, melody and musicianship that fans of their work up through Tarnished Gold have come to know and love. What I didn't know was that the band had real power pop instincts (and chops) before they moved more firmly into Gram Parsons, Byrds, and Laurel Canyon territory. The song "Desert Skies" exemplifies the band's skill at blending power pop and rootsier sounds. It and the entire album are unqualified successes. I highly recommend the album. And I hope that somehow, some way the band can make it to the East Coast to tour. The band will have a real audience in New York. We're waiting...
HASH(0x9a6beb88) out of 5 stars Seven strong songs on this formerly unreleased first record 21 April 2014
By John L Murphy - Published on Amazon.com
I've long liked much of their self-titled "debut" proper, and some of "Once We Were Trees," even if by the last EP, "Make the Cowboy Robots Cry," only its final song, the standout "Ghost Dance 1492" really stood out. While since these early-00s releases, other indie bands hopped on the same bandwagon as Beachwood Sparks, channeling the experimental vibes of the later Beach Boys with a countrified, El Lay early 70s pop-rock sound, the Sparks managed by studio craft to stay in control of their vision, and while unevenly produced on record, their best moments showed their talent and chops.

I had no idea this was released until now, and I at first thought it was new material. The first three songs seemed soggy, and reminded me of Teenage Fanclub playing Big Star, that is, a remote if well-intended return to a polished, perfectionist approach to power-pop/ pop-rock by post-punks. Oddly, all three get appended in other versions at the end of this unreleased album from the turn of the century.

But what follows, in the remaining core of the album as the rest of the seven songs after those first three, draws you in. Surprising, as it's rawer and has more abandon than their later, increasingly well-mannered sound. Full of Brian Wilson moments, but for once, married to a frenzied freakbeat or a unsettling energy I did not expect to burst out or burrow in so much, this is enjoyable pop that keeps an edgy, unpredictable side. A welcome find, and I recommend this once you get over those first (and last) three songs. The heart of this features some of the band's best moments.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9bbfdb1c) out of 5 stars Start of an Odessey 3 Mar. 2014
By Greg Reilly - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This CD is a bunch of songs by a talented band full of raw energy and finding its groove - and it has delivered some excellent rock 'n' roll. But, if you're already a fan, expect the unexpected, and be prepared for a few surprises and something a little different. This is not the The Zombies-with-twang, easy-listing, hazy-summer-like sound I'm used to, from their self-titled release (2000) through to "Tarnished Gold" (2012), and best harnessed on the wonderfully lilting "Once We Were Trees" (2001). The Zombies' "Odessey Oracle"-influence is apparent here, but so, too, is Neil Young and Crazyhorse, the Beach Boys ('70s style), Uncle Tupelo and more sounds mentioned by other reviewers. These early recordings have the vitality and spirit of a talented, young band let loose in a recording studio for the first time. A four-star rock-folk/country album.
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