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Painted Hills

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Album Review

Painted Hills arrive at the neo-hippie sound of their debut album with plenty of paisley pedigree. Leader Josh Schwartz has played with both Beachwood Sparks and the Tyde, neither of whom were ever known for running in the opposite direction from ‘60s psych influences, while guitarist Joe Bourdet also works with L.A. muttonchop-rockers Whispering Pines. On their self-titled maiden voyage, Painted Hills pursue a style that feels like a natural progression from the cosmic Americana of Schwartz's former projects, making music that seems designed for trudging through the underbrush of 1970 Laurel Canyon in cowboy boots and bellbottoms, or frolicking in the Pacific Ocean while your hastily discarded poncho gets blown all across Big Sur by the summertime breezes. The songs are awash with acid-drenched riffs, reverb-heavy vocals, and life-is-but-a-dream lyrics that suggest more than a passing familiarity with the sounds coming out of both the Bay Area and Great Britain in the late ‘60s. There's no coyness about the band's influences, either — a song dubbed "Kaleidoscope Eyes," filled with guitar lines that could have come off the cutting-room floor of Jefferson Airplane's After Bathing at Baxter's sessions, won't exactly leave folks guessing. And this being the 21st century, there's even a bit of inspiration discernible from a previous psychedelic revival period, that of the ‘80s paisley underground era. The more lambent cuts here bear a touch of David Roback's post-Rain Parade/pre-Mazzy Star project Opal, while "The Sound & the Fury" simply screams out "Dream Syndicate." Of course, all this plundering of the past would be for naught if Painted Hills didn't have the chops to back it all up, but rest assured, they've got it covered and then some. ~ J. Allen, Rovi

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