Beachwood Sparks - The Tarnished Gold
Some albums were made to be played on a Saturday night, '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. "That's definitely the idea," founding member Brent Rademaker confirms.
'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 expanded to seven pieces, with guitarists Knight and Neal Casal (solo artist and former member of Ryan Adams and the Cardinals), with Dan Horne on pedal steel in place of Scher, who opted to play organ, key, flying V guitar and electrified melodica. Also lending a hand were 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.
"I didn't feel an urge to jump back into that scene," Scher says of his initial ambivalence about picking things up again with Beachwood Sparks. "By 2003, I felt like we'd played our hand. We'd done anything that was in front of us a few times over. When you start out in a band like that, you really are a clubhouse and you're a synchronized unit in terms of what you do with your time. But there's a natural point when you outgrow all that. Some bands just play through it and figure it out, but in our case it went into hibernation."
It might've ended there if not for Sperske, who continued to press his onetime bandmates to keep things going, not only because they were sounding better than ever but also because the musical climate had shifted toward their style of music. "After SP20, Aaron continued to call us up individually," Brent recalls. "He has this rock & roll energy, and he kept pushing us forward. If we didn't have Aaron, we'd never get anything done." They all viewed it as another favorable sign when their cover of Sade's 'By Your Side' from 'Once We Were Trees' was used in the 2010 film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
Eventually, all four made the commitment to record an album, to the delight of Sub Pop A&R exec Tony Kiewel, who's known Scher, Gunst, Hey, Knight, and onetime auxiliary member Jimmy Tamborello (Dntl, The Postal Service) since they were all students at Loyola Marymount and DJs on KXLU, the school's influential station. (It was during those days that Scher picked up the "Farmer Dave" handle, which he used on the air; he'd picked it up after purchasing a mail order ant farm.)
This time around, they were determined to max out their strengths. "When we get our instruments on and have somewhere to play, it's just supernatural, and it always has been," Brent marvels. "But this time, I thought we could pull off something unprecedented-for us, at least-where we make a relevant album but not make the same mistakes or live the same rock & roll lifestyle."
When the time came to prepare the material and track the album, everything fell right into place. "We definitely got our sound together, which isn't hard to do," says Farmer Dave. "It's our own nature, so that part took care of itself. And people brought in solid kernels of ideas." Brent picks up the thought. "The way we did it was, we'd bring in songs and let the band paint them in," he says. "The seven of us played everything live in the studio, and Thom cut it to tape. When we recorded a song, we didn't labor over it like we had in the past-this time, once everybody knew it, we'd get a keeper in one or two takes."
Now that the new album is ready for the world, Farmer Dave is cautiously optimistic about the future. "Our expectations were not just to get together and do this record," he says. "All of us innately felt that, with all the effort we put in and how much of ourselves we contributed to try and make something special the first time around, some people don't even know it existed. So, in addition to us getting back together, maybe more people will get to know about what we accomplished and even go back to the old records. This record closes a circle for us."
"It's great to be making the kind of music that I like with my best friends and favorite musicians," says Brent. "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."
Release Date : 10 Jul 2012