Rio Ranger EP
There is something purely joyful about Cotton Jones’ Rio Ranger and it’s hard to put a finger on it. These ex-Page France members keep prolifically refining what they’re about and this 6-song EP is the sound of them falling deeply and perfectly into their groove. Where the preceding EP Archery saw songwriter Michael Nau fusing the darker, hazier aspects of Mazzy Star and The Doors, this release completely shakes off those late night blues and replaces them with a woozy giddiness. Opener “Only Minutes Young” boasts a vocal melody lovingly culled from Jay & The Americans “Come a Little Bit Closer” before turning into an organ-rich testification with the refrain shared by Nau and his wife Whitney: “there’s no sun looks as good as my sun, there’s no love, love’s good as my love.” “Nicotine Canaries” is a shuffling soul number bathed in reverb, echo and showcasing the shimmering analog sounds of an omnichord. “Don’t Got a Lotta Time” lumbers on a thick bass line and impeccably recorded drums — the drums in general on this recording versus Cotton Jones’ earlier material are captured exactly right — give the song a physical pulse to carry the emotional sentiment. Whitney Nau turns in her first solo vocal turn on the sweetly smoldering “Always Feeling Good.” She and Mike have a vocal dynamic that works as well as Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra, but it’s a treat to hear her on her own. The simple interplay between guitar leads, organ drones and a rock-solid rhythm section rule closer “Where You Stop For a Minute,” but the song’s declaration that “home is where you stop for a minute and clean your teeth” tells the story of how happy these folks are with the travelin’ band lifestyle. Make no mistake, this is one of the best bands out there right now, both live and on record, and this document is their finest yet.
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