By Daniel Kohn
After last year’s surprise return after 10 years on the sidelines, Beachwood Sparks have another unexpected treasure to unearth for fans. Recorded in 1997 with the original sextet, Desert Skies is technically the Sparks’ debut, a glimpse into the infancy of the psych-country outfit. The heavy chords of the album-opening title track are a surprising jolt, yet maintain the same breezy Laurel Canyon harmonies for which the band later became known. The rockin’ riffs continue throughout and, in fact, this “lost” record sounds less like a blueprint for a budding outfit and, instead, has the warmth of a freewheelin’ jam session between friends, blending throwback ’60s blues and psychedelia, especially on songs like “Watery Moonlight” and “This Is What It Feels Like.” It all raises the obvious question—why didn’t they release this thing in the first place?