Album review: Los Colognes ‘Dos’ a fast, exploring ride feels like J.J. Cale and Dire Straits are passengers
The pull of the open road stems from a need for people to drop control and get lost on the great highways and byways of the country. Let the day be filled with wonder at the new, moving toward a faraway destination that might not be known. The adventure is as much in the journey as it is in the journey’s end.
Los Colognes’ sophomore album, “Dos,” zips with an open, exploratory spirit that steadily pushes toward the horizon. From beginning to end, the album breezes by like wind through your hair as you drive through the sublime expanses of the forgotten Southwest.
The Nashville band wears on its sleeve the music of J.J Cale and Dire Straits with a sound that is intuitively classic, a rousing combination of sweet, crisp guitar lines, bright layers of keys and charging rhythms. Jay Rutherford (guitar, vocals), sings with the warm, hushed, coolness of both Cale and Mark Knopfler and the interplay of Rutherford, Aaron Mortenson (drums, percussion), Gordon Persha (bass), Micah Hulscher (keyboards), Chuck Foster (keyboards) and Wojtek Krupka (guitar) gives the songs a wide-open feel to them, plenty of space to settle into.
What Los Colognes does best on “Dos” is finding the melody in the groove and running with it. Driven by the sparkly licks laid down by Rutherford and Krupka, songs “Backseat Driver” and “All That You Know” pump down the road with the high-octane swing of Dire Straits. The songs’ melodies are so effortless, it is easy to surrender to them and let them take the wheel, leaving you to settle into the carefree journey.
Along the way, the band cruises through the majestic, desert sprawl of “Golden Dragon Hut” and stops at the hole-in-the-wall dive bar that is “Drive Me Mad,” the jukebox filled with nothing but J.J. Cale tunes. The album travels down a lot of roads but no song ever meanders or gets lost.The jams are tight and clean, though they show a lot of potential for further exploration in a live setting.
“Baby You Can’t Have Both” is a succinct boogie that takes on a pleasurable Little Feat-type outro with dancing guitar and piano lines. The revved-up highway blues on “Cherry” transcends into a beautiful jam filled with refreshing keys and exuberant guitar work. As the song fades, you wish you could hear the extended take of the song and see where the band was headed.
The graceful “They Got It On” closes out the album. Listening to the shimmering guitars feels like looking up into the night sky and getting lost in the stars after a day on the highway. Los Colognes makes you gaze into the abyss with curiosity and a willingness to go where the band leads you. You’re not sure where you’ll end up, but you’ll have an adventure with good company.
Los Colognes “Dos”Release: Sept. 4, 2015
Notable Tracks: “Baby You Can’t Have Both,” “Cherry”
ABOUT Garrett Bethmann
Garrett Bethmann is a graduate of University of Mary Washington with a degree in English. An eight-year resident of Lake Tahoe, he now lives in Denver, Colorado.