For dull reasons, ‘Spillin’ The Beans is a day late this week, but never mind, this week’s column is about a very interesting album, Amerikana, by yet another band I’ve not previously heard of, and that band is The Stevenson Ranch Davidians, even though they have been around in various forms since 2006, although they haven’t released anything since 2009, which makes me feel better about my ignorance of their existence.
So, what are we getting with this new album? Well, the LP will be available on Classic Black 150G Vinyl with Lyric Inner Sleeve on June 9th, and is available for pre-order at: Picture In My Ear Records but that doesn’t say what it is all about and in one word, it is all about Psychedelia. Yes, more psychedelia, but this is much more like psych country than out and out Haight Ashbury Flower Power psych. It is also music that you would find familiar if you have ever listened to any of the CDs in the excellent Nuggets series.
Anyway, let’s get the press release out of the way and explore the actual music. I am informed that “Steeped in the aura of the perennially mythologized psychedelic culture of Southern California and making music influenced by the enduring essence of ‘60s psych, folk and soul, woven with strands of early American roots music, The Stevenson Ranch Davidians has, since 2006, revealed itself in shifting configurations. While the lineup has continually coalesced around lead singer and songwriter Dwayne Seagraves, the collective has always had a guiding vision and goal: to create music that seeks to simultaneously demystify and deify the human experience. ‘Amerikana’ represents a new direction for the band, where the dreamy, flowing sound of albums past is infused with a fresh sense of inspiration, energy and purpose. This is an eclectic, yet cohesive, set of songs that glorify the human spirit while condemning those who seek to destroy it.“
Well, that all sounds fine, but what is it all like? To my ears, if I had to define the band by only one association, I would probably fail to get across the width of forms the music takes. I get a bit of Byrds, some Doors, a pinch of 13th Floor Elevators, a hint of Rolling Stones and a lot more. This is pretty eclectic stuff, and that isn’t said in a disparaging way at all. I keep on thinking The Long Ryders too. If you want to find out more about the band, their website is here.
On first listening, I was very taken with the album opener, “Wack Magick“, which has also been released as a single, but the second time around, the one that really stuck in my head was the track “Om g“, a moody atmospheric song which made me play it again because I liked it so much. The thing about this album is, for me, that it sounds like people who really know what they want to say and, more importantly, how to say it.
Soundwise, we have fairly simple, stripped back production, which reinforces that psychedelic 60s vibe, spiced up with subtle reverb and twang, a classic Americana sound, I suppose. I can see this album working for a lot of people, there is good musicianship here and strong material. The track “The Highest Meadow” made me think of “Amazing Grace” with its gospel-tinged country feel but It also made me think of Primal Scream and Mazzy Star. In fact, in hindsight, Mazzy Star might be a single point of reference st start from when approaching this album, and I am saying that as a big fan of Mazzy Star.
In addition to main man Dwayne Seagraves, the band are Jessica Latioliat on bass, drummer Andy Campanella and guitarists Misha Bullock and Rob Campanella.
So, am I recommending Amerikana? You betcha! This is a terrific album. If you like your country with a psychedelic vibe and your Americana with some 60s retro twang, this should be right up your street. Don’t pass by. Stop and unplug your ears. It is definitely worth a listen.