While scouring the internet and iTunes for reviews of Cotton Jones, I stumbled upon a simple, one-sentence summation that perfectly captured the band’s sound …
Still the man who musically helps you come down from your bad trip.
The man, in this case, would be Michael Nau, the former lead singer and creator of the band Page France, who joined forces with Whitney McGraw in 2005 to comprise The Cotton Jones Basket Ride. Since shortening its name a couple of years ago, the band has put out a pair of solid full-length albums, including 2009’s Paranoid Cocoon and last year’s Tall Hours in the Glowstream.
As you can probably tell from the above quote, the duo’s sound is heavy on the psychedelia, but it also has a strong folk influence.
The debut album opens with Nau channeling his inner Jim Morrison on “Up a Tree (Went This Heart I Have)” and “Gotta Cheer Up”. From there, his and McGraw’s voices grow more soothing as the songs meld together into a never-ending trance.
Another strong track on that disc is “Blood Red Sentimental Blues”
On the more recent album, Nau’s voice dominates as McGraw is resigned to more of a backing role. While that certainly affects the harmony, all is not lost. The group doesn’t stray too far from its earlier sound, except that the songs are slightly reined-in and little poppier. Additionally, several of the songs have a familiar, almost oldies-like vibe to them.
The best track on the album is the one that originally introduced me to the group — “Somehow To Keep It Going” — but there are also several other solid tunes, including “Sail of the Silver Morning”, “More Songs For Margaret” and “Glorylight and Christie”.
(Note: For some reason, there is a delay of nearly a minute before this track starts playing. So, you should just open it in a separate tab and continue reading. Trust me, it’s a good song.)
I had never heard of the group until seeing Tall Hours in the Glowstream listed as No. 4 on Urban Outfitters’ Best of 2010 list. The group, which seemingly came out of nowhere as far as I was concerned, has put out several EPs and a few other assorted releases since 2007. The members developed their sound while living in the Appalachian hamlet of Cumberland, Md., but they have supposedly since relocated to Georgia.
To hear several more of their songs, visit their MySpace page. While there, take note of their current tour schedule. They make a quick pass through the Midwest for a few days in early February before heading back this way at the end of the month.