Listen to Old Manatee by Beachwood Sparks.
Listen to Disciples of California by Skygreen Leopards
"Old Manatee" is a song I've loved ever since I heard it. Its lyrics are willfully (I hope) outrageous, with their mention of trees that are "only in our minds." I also think the banjo part is lovely, adding color and atmosphere to the tune. What's more, the idea of losing one's way "deep in the pines" brings to mind a whole slew of satisfying musical references, from the Louvin Brothers to Kurt Cobain (and many more). Floating manatees, building fires, "sweet Tennessee"...I just love these nature-worshipping songs.
I came across the Skygreen Leopards, a Bay area group, in a search for vaguely Beachwood-related bands. Their 2006 record Disciples of California features songs with titles like "West of Shawnapee" and "Jesus was Californian". I figured that with titles like those they couldn't be too bad (and the album cover is pretty amazing too). Well, they do pastoral mumble-folk pretty well, but it didn't really measure up to the standard I had in mind. Anyway, enjoy the record's title song, with its similarly nature-worshipping (I think) lyrics and cool opening tape warp.
Photo: Williamsburg Wall.