South of Nowhere is the debut album from Spanish Gold which is a side project for Patrick Hallahan (drummer with My Morning Jacket), Adrian Quesada (formerly of Grupo Fantasma) and Dante Schwebel (City and Colour and Hacienda). The album is elements of classic old school James Brown funk, 60's garage, slinky soul and slabs of lithe 80's style synth all wrapped up in southern fried groove that has a welcome roughness to the edges. Hallahan to me is a wall of sound drummer he really nails that beat and he creates a strong framework for the rhythm to build on each song. There is also something of a nod to the Black Keys in taking something old and reinventing it in a way that sounds new, certainly not a pastiche or copy. Part of this could be attributed to part of the album being recorded at Dan Auerbach's Easy Eye studio in Nashville.
The opening to One Track Mind sounds like Jimmy Nolen behind James Brown before it slinks off into something funky and pulsing, South Of Nowhere has some stuttering garage inspired funk, it's also a very sparse song lots of open space like the no mans lands around the Texas-Mexico border. Out On The Street brings the MTV focused 80's into view, it sounds eerily familiar to Rockwell's Somebody's Watching Me it has a real slinky beat. This album moves between the raggedness of garage and funk and the anthemic nature of the 80's, it never loses it's flow everything melds together. Day Drinkin has a slow psychedelic sunday afternoon beer garden feel, it's laid back summer song, the perfect accompaniment to watching the sun drift into the horizon. Ride On Up is a highlight it sounds a lot like early Lenny Kravitz before the stadium lights obscured his vision, it's soulful with a pounding bassline. Lonely Ride is an 80's rock anthem it's brilliant, another Lenny styled song, layered vocals and an infectious melody that lifts the album to another level.
This album has kind of flown under the radar a little bit, in a year when there has been some great releases, this will feature in my best of list for 2014.