Oxford, England, is often cold, dreary and wet. Ozona, Texas, is apparently hot, dry and remote. It’s a desert town in the hot crotch of Texas, boasting a truck stop with a bar and — if Goldrush’s album named in the town’s honor is any indication — loads of inspiration. The quintet has managed to marry Americana, alt.country, and a bit of shoegazer pop in this sweeping testament to getting stranded in the desert on the way to the South by Southwest festival.
Goldrush releases its music (and the music of quite a few other English bands) on its own indie label, Truck Records. The U.S. version, released by Los Angeles’s Better Looking Records, includes some tracks from the band’s earlier Truck releases that were previously only available as imports in the States. The full-on alt.country jangle/stomp of opener “Wait for the Wheels” sounds like a homage to Tarantula-era Ride (and seeing as Goldrush has backed Mark Gardener on his solo efforts, this is quite fitting). “There’s a World” is a gorgeous, plaintive testament to waiting for a chance to come and happen. This song is perfect for people who love distinctively English-sounding indie. The relatively heavy closing jam builds up from the lighter acoustic beginnings, with a soaring guitar line over the top of the chunky bass and crash cymbals and feedback.
Robin Bennett’s otherwise cigarette-worn voice is sweetest on the countrified “All the Faces,” which features vocal harmonies and does the Byrds and the La’s proud. This track, a summer song at its best, would also fit on 1996’s Tarantula — somewhere near “Sunshine/Nowhere to Run.” Tumbling bass opens “Jupiter,” which has the best jam at the end. The country influence in the slide-like guitar invokes dancing barefoot at the family picnic or dancing drunk in the desert to the song that’s stuck in your head.
“Counting Song” and “Feel,” which don’t appear on the U.K. version, sound dated — very Bread or Eddie Rabbit. The music isn’t irritating, but the vocal style left me wondering what the band was thinking. “Let You Down” starts out with atmospheric electronic stabbings — the song invokes Slowdive and Air. The pedal-steel-sounding guitar is beautiful and weepy, a gorgeous way to open a song. It’s an ethereal, stunning song, but sonically very different from the rest of the album. This song and “Each Moment” are Goldrush’s nods to the shoegazer roots the band set down in Oxford.
The songs that make up the shorter U.K. version (“Wheels,” “World,” “Faces,” “Jupiter” and two songs not on the U.S. version) crystallize as a sound. But on the U.S. version, the tracks from the old releases that are peppered in between interrupt the flow of the sound and album. It gives the impression that Goldrush is still experimenting with its sound. Hearing their decision-making process is a great listen, but it makes the album sound a bit disjointed.