Timeless Flight

L.A.'s twangy, trippy Beachwood Sparks ascend with a white-soul masterpiece

One thing that hasn't changed is the band's steadfast adherence to a retro recording aesthetic. Along with the gorgeous time-warp efforts of Detroit's Outrageous Cherry, Beachwood Sparks is the underground band that seems most adept at making genuine sonic connections to its antecedents. Gram-o-philes will note the Sparks' country dirge "Hearts Mend" -- which rips its plip-plop drums (and title, for that matter) from Parsons' playbook. Or the piano 'n' steel swayer "By Your Side," a surprisingly earnest cover of a Sade tune, which the band turns into "Hot Burrito No. 3."

Lyrically, the Sparks' songs (mostly penned by Gunst) are typical of Parsons' oeuvre. Themes run the gamut, from the "Sin City" escapism of the aforementioned "Hearts Mend," the big-mouth blues of "Yer Selfish Ways," to the pale morning reverie of "The Hustler."

With its multiple layers, litany of rock references and expansive scope, Once We Were Trees is a kitchen sink record to be sure, yet it doesn't come off as sonic indulgence, but rather a heartfelt expression and thorough digestion of several generations of musicmaking.

Beachwood Sparks: Making music that sounds younger than yesterday.
Autumn DeWilde
Beachwood Sparks: Making music that sounds younger than yesterday.
Beachwood Sparks moves past the stylish California canyon cool of its debut with Once We Were Trees.
Autumn DeWilde
Beachwood Sparks moves past the stylish California canyon cool of its debut with Once We Were Trees.

Details

Scheduled to open for the Black Crowes on Sunday, September 9. Showtime is 7 p.m.
ASU Sundome in Sun City West

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"Hopefully it won't just be considered a retro thing," says Gunst. "We like old music, but we like all music, you know what I mean? All that gets filtered down into what we're doing and, hopefully, it turns out to be something original in the end."

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