Rose City Band, Summerlong (Thrill Jockey)
Glowing like the most golden of suns, lazy and listless, sparking great vibes in every direction, Ripley Johnson (Moon Duo, Wooden Shjips) cut out the usual kraut from his rock and added a heavy dose of The Byrds at their most lysergic on his 2020 Rose City Band album. This is truly blissed out music, Laurel Canyon music, two cats in the yard and Joni bringing you green tea music, and yet the fact that it arrived at such a dark time in history makes it seem somehow subversive. In the midst of a population wracked with anxiety, these songs betray not an ounce of stress, are in absolutely no hurry, and are in no way seeking answers, justice, or looking to punish or shame. They don’t have to seek anything because they’re comfortable in their own skin, and that skin is draped in worn plaid and dusted cowboy boots and is turned to the rising Western sun. The aesthetics here are apparent since this record, from its cover to its liquid gold grooves, is designed to come off as a forgotten slab of independently pressed vinyl from 1968, and it it deftly dodges pretension since it feels so completely natural and lived in. The closing suit of “Wee Hours” into “Wildflowers” is simply the most gorgeous piece of music we know of recorded in 2020, and with Rose City Band Johnson has found a way to free himself the heady budz paranoia and wispy ego death that have tainted most psychedelic music since Syd dropped his first cube, tapping into the expansive, highly positive, and unapologetically sunny vein that has pulsed in obscurity for far too long.