The Cotton Jones Basket Ride
For me, Jim Morrison’s actual musical output never really measured up to the iconic status he has since attained in death. Probably my biggest problem with Morrison’s legacy comes in the form of the limitless hacks who think they can turn their drug-haze babble into rock “poetry.” Very infrequently does a Doors homage bode well, but Page France expatriates The Cotton Jones Basket Ride, manage to rule while other bands’ attempts have failed horribly. On The Archery‘s opening tracks, Michael Nau channels not only Morrison’s nocturnal baritone croon, but his backing band also cops the fiery keyboard riffs, the languid guitar lines, and jazzy bass and drums of the darker side of Californian psychedelica.
The foil to this early night excitement comes with the bleary-eyed dawn reflection of the EP’s second half. It’s a more mellow affair, recalling some of the lighter pop flourishes of the group’s Page France days infused with the stark reality of early Velvet Underground. While it’s hard to imagine Nau’s former outfit proffering lines like “Nothing’s real anymore/ You mustn’t fear anymore/ You’re only here/ There’s nothing more,” Nau and co-vocalist Whitney McGraw imbue the lyrics with an affection and camaraderie that’s anything but bleak.
While Cotton Jones may sound like a marked departure from Page France’s upbeat pop jangle, the band has only swapped one ’60s genre for another. As thoroughly as Nau’s retired group owned pop’s sunny side, Cotton Jones lays reputable claim to musical ground left largely vacant of talent for the last 40 years.
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