The Skygreen Leopards - Disciples of California
Jagjaguwar 01.21.07 by Keith Boyd
Howling for blood, we bathe in the flood of sunlight on the water”
It’s 1968 and you’re cruising Peter Fonda’s chopper through Topanga Canyon.
It's a warm day and you feel like you could ride forever. No real geographical features are needed here. This is a Topanga Canyon of the mind.
You let Roger McGuinn’s 12-string Rickenbacker twangle and steeplechase through your skull and feel the warm sunlight as it breaks thorough the crippled paws of Live Oak leaves. This is California as Earthy paradise.
It’s a weird blend of Hippie optimism, manzanita bushes, fields of wild mustard and the ceaseless sacred whispers of the Pacific. In this imaginal California there are acres and acres of orange groves blessing the night with their perfume. In this California there's isn't much traffic and no row houses. In this California not every square inch of dirt has been covered with concrete-just enough to skateboard on. In this California the stretch from Oceanside to Anaheim is still dusty country. It’s this California that is so expertly invoked by The Skygreen Leopards on their new disc, “Disciples of California”.
The Skygreen Leopards are one of the many heads connected to the San Franciscan Jeweled Antler Collective hydra. This group of artists have been producing beautiful and mysterious music under the names Thuja, The Franciscan Hobbies, Coelacanth, Dead Raven Choir and many others for the past several years and ALL of it is worth your time and effort. On “Disciples” they manage to channel equal parts Byrds. Flying Burrito Brothers and Nick Drake. The album hums with an intimate warmth that pulls you in and lifts you up. This disc works as a sort nonspecific concept piece. There’s a vague thread running through it about the redemptive power of the West Coast. Jesus is drafted into the mix (“Jesus was Californian”) to wander with Sally Orchid in search of innocence and tranquility. The music has a cough syrup Western vibe to it with shimmery chorussed out chords and long wailing pedal steel runs. Simply put, “Disciples of California” is a gorgeous and engrossing addition to the never ending cannon of California Mythology.
Recently while walking along the tide pools between Swami’s beach and Cardiff I was listening to this on the ipod and was compelled to write down this spontaneous “bop-prosidy”. It sums up my feelings about this wonderful disc.
“Let there be a Jesus of the Pacific. Let his hair grow long like kelp. Let him fill seashells with salt water to anoint your head in new California redemptions. Let the Pacific Grace flow from the Redwood roots to be eaten by fish and drain into the sea. Let our anger and cruelty fade as we pray for our resurrection. Let every sunset bless us and bless the Jesus of the Pacific.