Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Here's a band from L.A. that happily welcomes being labelled eclectic. A great big, seven-piece outfit, they throw lots into the mix, but it all comes out sweet. Largely roots-rock, The Skylarks feature great vocals, from lead singer Sam Mellon, second voice Amy Luftig Viste, and lots and lots of harmonies. Then there are plenty of accents, with a full-time pedal and lap steel player on duty in Julian Goldwhite, and a bona fide trumpeter, Dan Clucas, for that mariachi moment. Oh, and there are freak-outs too, just when you think everything's pop and smiley.

Maybe it's California; these folks aren't kids, they have kids, and have no doubt seen every scene from Sunset Strip pop to Palomino country to Paisley Underground to cowpunk to desert rock. All this comes together seamlessly, with hooks galore but an edge to every song too. The band can be light as a breeze, with touches of The Jayhawks, but mix in Wilco moments.

Earle Mankey ably produces, a perfect fit thanks to his resume, an early guitar player for Sparks, engineer on The Beach Boys Love You album, and producer of The Runaways, Concrete Blonde and The Long Ryders. So it's all this mix of classic influences, an appreciation for beauty and tears, craft and feeling, and moving forward. A gem.

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