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Psychedelic Cowboys

Tragic Songs And Hop-A-Longs' – 2000 (Stone Legal)

Reviewed by Bill Silvers

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CDs by Psychedelic Cowboys

Southern California was the center for '70's country-rock, with groups like the Flying Burrito Brothers, The Byrds and The Eagles at the forefront. Despite the scene's petering out in the late 70's, SoCal artists have continued working twangy sounds into their rock, and vice versa, to this day.

The LA-based Psychedelic Cowboys self-styled brand of "Cosmic Americana" is reminiscent of the '70's heyday of country-rock. The sound's not so much rocking as gently twanging with strummed acoustic guitars, pedal steel and occasional touches of horns, strings, tambourines and castanets that recall western movie soundtracks on "Kaleidoscope Canyon Drive" and "Life's Great," which open the record.

A relaxed, laid-back vibe predominates here, with a tongue-in-cheek sensibility to make it go down easy. The good humor makes it easier to forgive the slightness of some of the lyrics, which at times seem a little forced. (When's the last time you heard "dad burn" used in conversation?) The most effective songs are those that, like "Mt. Airy Mistake" and "Oh Why (She's Gone)," add a little depth and sincerity to the ham-on-wry approach. Label this a pleasant, if insubstantial, trip.