Record Review July 10 2002

Following in the California tradition of cosmic Americana artists like the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, Los Angeles' Beachwood Sparks make sleepy, sun-soaked music, wistful and winding. Imagine the sound of waking to a wash of indirect light, the world a complete white haze as you rub the sleep out of your eyes. Slowly, shapes begin to take form as you stretch. Now imagine that those shapes never quite crystallize, and you've found the wavery sound of Beachwood Sparks' new six-song Make the Cowboy Robots Cry, the follow-up to their 2001 full-length, Once We Were Trees.

Now featuring the full-time return of drummer Jimi Hey and the production of electro-acoustic tinkerer Jimmy "DNTEL" Tamborello, the album is smooth yet speckled, deep and distant as sun reflecting from a glacial valley. A craggy, frail Buffalo Springfield/Beach Boys falsetto crawls through intricately woven, delicate instrumental slivers flecked with rural flourish, at times exuding a light Flaming Lips-meets-Love vibe.

Bound to be equally appealing to fans of the more somnambulist moments from My Morning Jacket, Wilco and Spiritualized, Make the Cowboy Robots Cry ambles amiably yet aimlessly, for the most part — only really catching wind in its sails toward the end of "Ponce de Leon Blues" and "Ghost Dace 1492." But who wants to go anywhere when you have the luxury of an afternoon nap anyway?

Beachwood Sparks play the Echo Lounge Wed., July 17.??