Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Cave Flowers' quintessential California folk rock sound on "Upper Hand"

"healthy dose of outlaw"

Upper Hand by L.A. based Cave Flowers is so exquisitely California country in that iconic 70's roots country rock way. I like to call this kind of rock- garden rock because it not only has the classic country folk vibe but the kind of hippie infused California folk country that conjures up surf and psyche folk influences on the sound all the way from Big Sur to Santa Monica to Laurel Canyon and back again. At the core of Cave Flowers is Andy McAllister who a Seattle transplant who had success with his band Vanish Valley. He spent a decade in L.A. and unbeknownst to him was gathering stories and melodies for songs yet to be written with a band who would finally attain the laid back Cali sound he dreamt of, namely Henry Derek Elis (guitar), Ryan Wykert (drums) and Ben Coil (bass). The sounds, stories coalesced as an album at Heritage Recording Company engineered by Chris Rondiniella with the musical help from Joh Niemann (Gospelbeach) on keys and Frankie Palmer on pedal steel. 

There are more important key facts in the press notes below but suffice it to say, Upper Hand is quintessentially California folk rock, timeless as the California sun and surf encased in Cali amber forever. 

Robb Donker Curtius


Inspired by legendary long-timers John Prine and Willie Nelson, Andy McAllister spent a good three years kicking the tires on new tunes, filling up notebooks and stockpiling stories. After releasing three albums with his previous band Vanish Valley, he found himself drifting around Los Angeles - still dreaming of putting together a group that would reach for that laid-back California country sound that he originally left Seattle for in the first place.
He reconnected with guitar and genuine renaissance man, Henry Derek Elis, who he first met 10 years ago when he moved to LA. Elis brought equal parts Waylon Jennings and Crazy Horse into the equation and the band quickly took shape with Ryan Wykert (Ivory Deville) on drums and Ben Coil on bass.
In a matter of months, the group swiftly sorted through McAllister’s song sketches, giving thumbs up to what immediately felt good, bringing the vibes and breathing new life into them. The band went into the Heritage Recording Company with Chris Rondinella (who got his start engineering for Levon Helm) and in two days tracked 11 songs live.
Jon Niemann (Gospelbeach) and Frankie Palmer kindly added keys and pedal steel, respectively. The results are roll-your-window-down Americana mixed with a healthy dose of outlaw country goodness that might just hit the sweet spot on the ears just as the sun starts to set on the horizon.

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