After hiatus, band sparks mellow summer moods

Published 5:16 pm Saturday, June 30, 2012

Summer just got a little more mellow.

The veteran band Beachwood Shakes returns with an album that”s just in time for the peak summer drives and vacations.

“Tarnished Gold” is a bit of a feel-good album, with a string of twangy melodies and vocal harmonies that don’t so much peak, as they do sustain.

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The band formed in the 1990s, but “Tarnished Gold” is just its third full-length album, and it’s first full album since 2001’s “Once We Were Trees” (not counting the “Make the Cowboy Robots Cry” EP from 2002).

Beachwood Sparks was once described as “country through a kaleidoscope,” and the description holds true.

On “Tarnished Gold,” the band mixes the modern with a 1970s vibe, almost in the tradition of Neil Young. In fact, many of the songs have subtle, country-based nuances from that era, with rich harmonies blended in like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. But the songs also contain subtle psychedelic undertones.

“No Queremos Oro” shows the bands lighter side, with the singing in Spanish and a monotone translation spoken softly. Songs like “Earl Jean” show the feel-good songs come with a touch of melancholy.

The comfortable ambiance of the album could be seen a fault, as the music never stretches its bounds, but the band is clearly content with their final product.