The LA collective known as Drugdealer exists in a highly pleasurable realm where Strawberry Alarm Clock became as big as The Beatles and the summer of ’66 (the real summer of love) never ended. Michael Collins, the main stay and founder, conjured up some truly serious talent for the latest album, Raw Honey, enlisting marquee name heavy hitters Ariel Pink and Weyes Blood, plus members of the Mac DeMarco band. Collins has dipped his mustache into other projects including his alter egos Run DMT and Salvia Plath (are we sensing a theme, here?), but is now devoting his time exclusively to Drugdealer.
Raw Honey is Drugdealer’s second helping of psychedelic liquid sunshine pop, boasting a laid back groove that bores its way into your synapses with a shrugs and melodies to spare. In true star hippie fashion, Michael allegedly never played an instrument until he got into dabbling with sound design. After traversing the country by freight train (old school Kerouac flex move, if it’s true), he set about teaching himself the songwriting process, crafting his work from the perspective of the listener as opposed to the musician. It’s a roundabout way to learn, but he nailed it. The man designs tactile auditory pleasures, songs that come at you in colors, most of them bright and bold.
The first Drugdealer offering, 2016’s The End Of Comedy, betrayed hints of George Harrison solo sweep and early Beck slacker folk. Raw Honey takes those hints and runs with them. Standout track “Fools” sounds like if Sir George had jumped onto Sea Change and rode it all the way home. The whole thing could be pretty unwieldy in the wrong hands, but this 6 piece pulls it off with a casual grace.
Look, we all know that plenty of today’s “rockers” possess the dark wavy locks and the mutton chops and the Lennon granny glasses and the skinny vertical lined pants and the chunky eastern trinkets. Hell, they practically won’t let you into an East LA coffee shop without this uniform (No Coke Spoon Chain, No Service), but Collins & Co., unlike their contemporaries, actually sound like 1972 and not just a heavily curated fantasy of a long gone time that never was Loose and easy and quite possibly high, Collins handles keys and sings in a Donald Fagen-ish style. There’s a bit of yacht rock atmospherics going on here, CSN but no Y if you get the drift. The blended harmonies betray many a languid sun shine soaked afternoons that drift into a hazy moonlit evenings. Utilizing major chord acoustic runs and heady sax, this collaboration of musicians are creating some of the smoothest Laurel Canyon grooves this side of 1974. It’s a sunshine daydream, and it’s yours if you want it.
Their album release show is this Friday (April 19) at the Market Hotel in Brooklyn. Brooklynites make sure to show support for your new fave Drugdealer.