Reviews

Cocktails On Sugar Candy Mountain: An Album Review Of Do Right

Miles and Dawy team up to review Do Right, the new album from Sugar Candy Mountain. Miles pairs cocktails with the psychedelic album, while Dawy unpacks the intricacies of the newest offering from the Oakland-based group.

“Split in Two”: When you hear this it reminds me of something that would be played in a cyberpunk-esque film or TV show, and I freely admit it has me a little stumped. It is however light and floaty—listen to it and you’ll know what I mean. I’m going to go with Pimms here. Throw in lemonade, enough fruit to hopefully offset the hangover (drink responsibly) and enjoy a sunny day in a field or beach—or perhaps a mega-city highrise as the government-built false sun sets as two hundred stories below a gatling gun with legs battles cybernetic SWAT teams. You know, wherever really.

“Crystalline”: Again a light song, and dare I say it, there’s a floral essence about it. I’d go with a Riesling, something good quality (doesn’t have to be expensive, no matter what anybody says). Something with a bit of jasmine perhaps, maybe some green apple and a hint of honey. Nicely chilled obviously, as we’re not barbarians here.

“This Time Around”: Damn do I like this song. It’s playful, fun and easy going and that’s the reason I’m going with Hite, a South Korean lager that is itself simple. The beer, unlike the music, may not be one to win awards but it’s popular with yours truly as it’s enjoyable, not pretentious and not expensive. Frolic with friends, enjoy sunshine—be happy, people.

“Happening”: A slower, little more melancholic tune that’s a little more complex than the lighter styles that have come before. I’m thinking Marselan, and I do have a weakness for Marselan from Calmel and Joseph. Liquorice, jammy fruits and chocolate on the nose and the palate bursts with black fruit and has a good length on it. I’m a sucker for their wines and it seems I may be becoming a sucker for Sugar Mountain Candy.

“Quiet Place”: I heard this song and instantly though of a nice warming gin (yes, they exist). My mind then went to Darnley’s Spiced Gin. while it may be served with ice, its hints of cinnamon and nutmeg does have a warming character and the spiced notes remind me of Christmas, for what I feel are obvious reasons.

“Mar-a-Lago”: I’m thinking sangria with this song, just seems to make sense to me and hopefully it will to you too. So far this album—with the exception of “Quiet Place”—has me thinking of summer which I feel is fitting. What else is more fitting for summer than a nice glass of sangria and good company. Doesn’t have to be sunny (sun can be iffy in Scotland), but enjoy the summer regardless.

“Tidal Wave”: It starts off a little odd but pleasant and then about halfway through changes tempo. I’d go with Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA here; the bitter hops, grapefruit, pine and faint caramel flavours just seem to go well with this song, at least in my head they do. I encourage you to try the two together and see what you think.

“Losing Myself”: Another slower tune that makes you want to curl up on the couch with something warming. I’d go for some mulled cider, and by mulled cider I mean the proper stuff. Just something comforting, something that’ll warm you up and something that will taste nice, simple as that really.

“Strickeen”: Caipirinha, and I totally didn’t have to google that to get the spelling correct. It’s fresh, it’s cooling, it’s one of my favourite cocktails and for some reason it was the first thing that came to mind when I heard this song. Quite frankly if you can’t enjoy this song and this cocktail together than you need to take a long hard look at yourself and question what you’re doing.

“Do You Know The Place?”: It starts a little trippy and I admit I checked my browser to see if I’d left a tab open. The song is all I’d come to expect given what had come before but I found myself stumped as to what I was going to pair with it. I was pulled towards some wines, but also towards some gins and after some deliberation I’ve decided on the Lavender and Echinacea gin from Old Curiosity. It does exactly what you’d expect and while I was initially sceptical of it I’ve come to love what Old Curiosity does. Plus if memory serves it changes colour once you add tonic, though don’t hold me to that. – Miles

Purchase wines and beers from St Andrews Wine Company.

Sugar Candy Mountain lives up to their name in their latest album, Do Right. With sweet vocal harmonies and ambient orchestration, the Oakland-based psychedelic pop-rock band creates music that perfectly captures the chill, coastal vibes of the Golden State, channeling the sounds of 60’s and 70’s rock to the present.

The moment I heard the opening notes of the first song (“Split In Two”), I knew I was going to like this album. Do Right is the kind of record that’s easy to enjoy all the way through, over and over again. The album reverberates retro charm from start to finish. And even though every track has its own uniqueness, Do Right maintains a cohesive sound throughout, leaving you with no doubt of where Sugar Candy Mountain draws their influence.

Songs like “This Time Around” and “Mar-a-Lago” have the classic Beach Boys sound: vibrant chord progressions, lively beats, and vocal harmonies so smooth they blend in almost seamlessly with the instruments. The melancholy tracks of the record, such as “Happening” and “Losing Myself,” rely more on memorable guitar riffs while maintaining the same dreamlike, echo-filled ambiance that’s present throughout the rest of the album. In “Quiet Place,” Sugar Candy Mountain reminds us to “slow down, chill out” to a slow-paced beat and an addictive melody. “Crystalline,” a favorite of mine, features dynamic percussion effects and a steady rhythm set to a backdrop of the sound of waves and seagulls at the beach.

Beyond the skillful orchestration and harmonies, the biggest impression Do Right leaves for me is in the scenery it paints. When I listen to this album I am transported to a winter trip to the desert where I walked among Joshua trees at twilight. And just as powerfully, the album’s chilled out, hazy mood tempts me to envision a drive up the California coastline that I haven’t taken yet. If you’re looking for a soundtrack for your next road trip, if you’re going through a bout of psychedelic rock nostalgia, or if you’re ever in need of tunes to wind down with, Do Right is the album for you. – Dawy

Listen to Do Right here:

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