Friday, February 15, 2019

Make It Real: A Quick Review Of The New Album From The Long Ryders

I almost can't believe I typed that headline. Yeah, you didn't read that wrong. There is a new album from the classic line-up of The Long Ryders and it's here. Psychedelic Country Soul, out today in America on Omnivore Recordings, and in the U.K. via Cherry Red, is the first new long-player from these cats in more than 30 years. That it sounds like they've never been gone should be read as a huge endorsement from this long-time fan.

The fine folks at Omnivore have, of course, been doing God's work with a carefully-chosen catalog of exemplary new releases and reissue projects, while the fine folks at Cherry Red recently put out that Long Ryders box-set I raved about, so the band's in good hands on both sides of the Atlantic. And, frankly, both labels are lucky to have this record as Psychedelic Country Soul is a refreshing reminder that roots rock never really went away, and that the genre's concerns are just as important today as they were in the Reagan era.

Opener "Greenville" kicks, the sort of tune that wouldn't have sounded out of place on State Of Our Union, for instance, while the lyrical "Molly Somebody" sees The Long Ryders expertly blend twang-y swatches of music with faint hints of the sort of thing that McGuinn once got away with in The Byrds. The band -- Sid Griffin, Stephen McCarthy, Tom Stevens, and Greg Sowders -- makes this stuff sound fresh, even as they seem to be reaffirming the vitality of the kind of tunes the players once cranked out to some levels of success in the college rock era. And if something like "Make It Real" sounds a bit like The Jayhawks, an astute listener realizes that that's 'cause The Jayhawks sounded a whole lot like The Long Ryders from the get-go!

Elsewhere on Psychedelic Country Soul, "What The Eagle Sees" rockets across the sky with real intent (special thanks to producer Ed Stasium for the heavy lifting on this one and others), while a nice cover of "Walls" from Tom Petty offers up a chance for half of The Bangles to provide some lovely backing vocals. After proving how vital they remain, The Long Ryders round out Psychedelic Country Soul with the cut that gives this record its name, a number that seems to touch on each of the styles in that song's title. The longer track also provides the four-piece a chance to indulge a bit, with the instrumental passages revealing an openness that may have been lacking on some of the earlier albums. It's a great way to finish off a really refreshingly powerful record.

Psychedelic Country Soul is out today in America on Omnivore Recordings, and in the U.K. on Cherry Red.

More details on The Long Ryders via the band's official website.

[Photo: Henry Diltz]