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Beachwood Sparks, ‘Desert Skies’

It’s often a mixed bag when bands dig out their first, previously unreleased studio tracks and thrust them upon the public. But in the case of Beachwood Sparks, these “lost” recordings are generally better than anything the band has done since. The Los Angeles-based psychedelic country-rock band has made some acclaimed albums for Sub Pop, but these 15-year-old, unmastered tracks from the vault are rawer and more fun, harder-rocking and less meticulously crafted. The group shows its debt to the Byrds’ trippy “Notorious Byrd Brothers” album (as on “Sweet Julie Ann” and “Canyon Ride”) but also bounce into garage-rock terrain with “Midsummer Daydream” and “Watery Moonlight,” which sounds like a lost Beau Brummels tune from a “Nuggets” compilation. Two songs here would go on to appear on their first Sub Pop album, both of them longer and looser. Singer-guitarist Chris Gunst comes into his own and Farmer Dave Scher excels on lap steel and organ. Beachwood Sparks fans will love this release. (Out Tuesday)

Essential: “Watery Moonlight”

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