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Here Comes the Time, the proper debut from Austin's Chris Catalena and the Native Americans is a sunlit, psych-pop album that provides a crowning introduction to a veteran songwriter. Clocking in at just over a half-hour, the songs weave in and out of reality, chronicling a relationship gone awry prior to the making of the record. Recorded during his time spent in Laurel Canyon and Hollywood in an attempt to turn over a new leaf sonically, we find the Native Americans victorious.
Eclecticism can often feel artificial, yet somehow here we find it thwarting Catalena forward into territory previously untouched by past projects. Produced by Rob Campanella of the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Here Comes the Time is rooted in traditional folk and country sounds, yet when met with oftentimes surreal lyrics on tracks like 'Yesterday's Today' and 'Golden Strings,' we find Catalena reaching more towards the likes of Pet Sounds and Sgt. Peppers. Even on 'Doctor Napalm,' a fairly straight ahead country-blues anthem, there is an LA-via-Austin psychedelia present that perhaps other roots musicians would shy away from. Maybe it was the assist from fellow Austin native Alex Maas from psych-rock titans The Black Angels. Regardless, it is refreshing to see an artist take risks, all the while remembering what it is they do so well.
The only forceless moment on the album comes during the third track, 'Telegram.' Sung by actress and musician Stephanie Hunt and recorded prior to the LA sessions, it doesn't have the grit and substance the rest of the album maintains throughout, briefly interrupting the pensive yet hopeful overtones that make it such an enthralling listen. Backed by a dream-team rhythm section including Nelson Bragg from Brian Wilson's band, you can sense that Catalena is comfortable in his new sound, finding solace behind a set of keys, rather than his standard six-string guitar. By the time we reach the 'King Kong Saturday and Sunday,' the final cut on HCTT, we find Catalena completely in his element. He's relaxed, settled, and even playful as he begins "I'm going to count in Spanish/I hope that's alright/I'm sure we can find a translator." Reminiscent of Daniel Johnston's 'True Love Will Find You in the End,' it concludes a gorgeous summer-time record filled with both sorrow and joy.
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