Nashville’s finest purveyors of febrile root-work psychedelia return with a dizzyingly accomplished second album that highlights an expanded band (including members of the Paperhead and Fly Golden Eagle); bigger, bolder arrangements featuring more and louder guitars, squally strings, and Steve Gunn; and road-ripened songwriting that veers between the frenetic and tender, recalling Jim Ford, the Pretty Things, the Grateful Dead, Dennis Linde, and the Byrds at their most eight-miles-fried.
The current lineup likewise prominently features invaluable Nashville stalwarts Peter Stringer-Hye (The Paperhead) on additional vocals and rhythm guitar and polymath Mitch Jones (Fly Golden Eagle) on keyboards, as well as handling co-production and string arrangements on the record. That’s Peter singing on “She Takes Me There” and “Northern Country Scene,” and providing honey to Joe’s vinegar on “Through the Seasons”; his chugging rhythm parts allow Sean space to explore the stratosphere. Mitch’s complex but understated organ and electric piano parts color and thicken things throughout, providing a subtle glaze to the proceedings. Lest you think Promised Land Sound is a band that aspires to sound like the sum of their record collections, think again: the fact is that there just aren’t many other bands writing and inhabiting rock and roll songs of this scale and structural and performative sophistication. The Chiltonisms and chiaroscuro of “She Takes Me There” recall Big Star, but not so much in sound as in sentiment—the melancholy dislocation of a Southern band in a Southern city, but existing strangely out of time and pushing beyond geography. Listen to the bittersweet swagger of “Otherwordly Pleasures” or “Oppression”: despite the classic psych and pop influences, Promised Land Sound is in some essential sense a staunchly Southern band, unselfconscious classicists eager to anchor their songs in traditional forms while tearing at the edges of the vernacular.
Reminds me of Eggs Over Easy & the Link Wray albums – a version of country-rock that isn’t too glossy, that still has gravel stuck in the boot toes. – William Tyler
What the Byrds might have sounded like had Gram Parsons joined the band a year or two earlier. Exemplary! – Uncut
It has that wonderful bar-band sound. Really fresh! – NPR
Brisk country-rock tunes that might make a young Gram Parsons kneel down and pray. – PopMatters
Tracklist: Push And Pull (All The Time) / She Takes Me There / Otherworldly Pleasures / Through The Seasons / Dialogue / Oppression / Golden Child / Canfield Drive / Better Company / Northern Country Scene
Paradise Of Batchelors POB022