Beachwood Sparks - The Tarnished Gold (Sub Pop) 

The alt-country twang is still there, just super-laid-back

After a decade-long break, Los Angeles-based space cowboys Beachwood Sparks return with an expanded lineup and a skyful of stars in their eyes. The original quartet, which spent its time away working on solo and other band projects, is joined by three additional musicians on The Tarnished Gold, boosting the sound on their third album to super-laid-back levels. The alt-country twang is still part of the central hub driving the songs, but the time away has made the members sharper individual players. Gram Parsons may still be Beachwood Sparks' musical reference point, but the country-rock pioneer's mind-inflating idealism isn't lost on them. Tracks like "Forget the Song" and "Sparks Fly Again" drift higher and lovelier than anything they've done in the past.

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