The way people talk about L.A. and their evolving relationship to the city, it always struck me like a psychedelic drug. It’s romantic and hopeful, sure, but just about everyone’s feelings on L.A. are warped over time, jaded by a seemingly faded sense of self. However, there’s a clarity of purpose that you hear from every resident that I never got living in the Midwest. The ocean breeze and promise of a new life is like a specter that haunts those in the City of Angels.
That sense of giving yourself over to something greater permeates Night Beats’ latest excellent release. It’s a gorgeous, hazy batch of songs that are somehow both haunted and buoyant in equal measure. It’s also a perfect escape into a masterfully created world.
Mastermind Danny Lee Blackwell has found a wonderful, fully realized sound and ethos with Outlaw R&B, taking stylistic cues from psych rock, garage, R&B, and blues rock (among others). It’s significantly less polished than past records, but it’s a successful and smart shift. It’s a record that’s as musically effective as it is in conveying a certain sensibility. Much of the album’s mood and feel borrows from both outlaw country and how I’d imagine a post-modern, hedonistic Western film to be.
There’s this sense of the beauty of being an outsider, a shared community of outcasts who treasure the land and a love of all creatures in the wilderness. There’s no hate tolerated, replaced with an unfettered passion and love. It’s like Woodstock ’69 as the soundtrack a Spaghetti Western, and it’s glorious.
Musically, the songs initially come across as simplistic and one-note, all hazy energy. However, repeat listens really reward careful ears – not everyone should be the quickest (critical) draw west of the Mississippi. Indeed, a galloping rhythm section and intricate guitar work are the perfect springboard for Blackwell’s soulful lyrics. The multifaceted melodic approach is also a nice touch, as songs weave in and out of styles with relative ease. The emphasis on psych gives the record a real sense of unity, playing into the themes of the record. For those looking for a fun escape from reality, go listen to Outlaw R&B post-haste.
Order the album at this location.