CD review: GospelbeacH, ‘Pacific Surf Line’ right on track

GospelbeacH album coverWhen the cover of your album features a cartoon of the band members barreling down the rails on a psychedelic steam-engine powered by good vibes and music, driven by a peace-sign throwing conductor dressed in an American flag tank top and a cowboy hat with an arrow through it, all under the haze of a clearly blissed-out sun, you know the album is going to keep you smiling.

That art is plastered on the cover of “Pacific Surf Line,” the debut album from California’s GoseplbeacH. The chill crew riding Casey Jones-style on the train is Brent Rademaker (vocals, guitar), Tom Sanford (drums), Jason Soda (vocals, guitar), Neal Casal (vocals, guitar), and Kip Boardman (vocals, bass). They make for one hell of a crew to hang with as you tour through some faraway but tangible place along the coast where the people go to be their most vivid and colorful .

Their sound evokes the heady sunshine of artists like Jonathan Wilson, Gram Parsons and the Grateful Dead and they approach the nine-song set with a good amount of reckless charm. It feels totally lived-in and comfortable as if the band members were really digging the impromptu jam sessions powered by pot, liquor and inside jokes they had in some isolated beach house and decided to press record. As Rademaker told Glide Magazine, “Nobody was trying to make this happen, it just came into our lives and took over.” With the album sounding like a heartfelt explosion of fun between kindred souls, it is hard not to see why.

The album’s title is a reference to the hearty steam engines of the old historic Santa Fe Railway, whose spirit lives on in the lead-off “California Steamer” as it merrily putters along through the golden hills of California. The harmonies billow like white clouds in a bluebird sky while the band grooves with a sweet country twang underneath, not a care in the world.

They cruise right into the next track,“Sunshine Skyway,” in a similar fashion, a natural extension of the journey. In an ode to Rademaker’s home state of Florida, the band sings in Flying Burrito Brothers fashion about how the best way to get back on track is to “head a little west to Siesta Key and get a meal at the Rod and Reel/ there is a waitress there/ oh my God you’ll swear/ that she’s always been your friend.” It’s a valuable tip to keep in your back pocket, the type of tip that is passed among a tight-knit group of friends.

The band members have fostered an intimate understanding between each other and “Pacific Surf Line” feels as if the group is all too happy to jump into this together. Throughout the album the band is usually singing in golden harmonies, taking part in sharing the stories. United in fuzzed rock and roll, the band barrels into “Mick Jones” with reckless charm. “Southern Girl” twirls around in mellow tones that GospelbeacH shocks with electric charges of psychedelia.

“Put your best foot forward, step into the sun/ never fear the end is near, it’s only just begun” they sing with sunny reverence on “Out Of My Mind.” It is a line that captures the optimistic spirit of the album and the band as whole. It’s a couple of friends coming to play music and hang together, to just enjoy themselves regardless of time and place. As the album rolls along, you realize that it tells the story of the picture on the front: five dudes on a kick-ass adventure who don’t know where they are going, but couldn’t care less as they achieve lift off.

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  • GospelbeacH
    “Pacific Surf Line”
    Release: Oct. 9, 2015
    Notable Tracks: “Southern Girl,” “California Steamer,” “Sunshine Skyway”

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