Americana 2 is the latest compilation from BBE and it celebrates some of the American folk and soul influenced sounds of the 1970s and 80s. I've not heard the previous album in this series and I'm not massively familiar with the blue eyed soul scene it ploughs, but there is a lot here to like.
The album has a sunny west coast vibe to match the soaring picture of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge that emblazons the cover. The laid back, highly polished take on soul feels particularly relevant to contemporary music, what with recent fetishisation of the west coast sound on Random Access Memories and the more California moments of Fleetwood Mac that inspire Haim. On the back of years of fascination with disco much of this album sits in a musical sweet spot - perfect for plundering. But BBE know their onions and you can be confident in the selection and intentions behind this album.
There is variety in sound here, but a coherent atmosphere that would make this the perfect soundtrack to long drives with the top down on sunny days... If only it wasn't October!
There are taught, disco numbers such as Breakaway's jiggy "There's A New Girl In Town", a track that feels like a seventies discoteque until precisely the moment a bold yet lethargic steely guitar solo kicks in after the third-minute. In comparison E.J. Stamp's "I Know All About It" is like the Eagles vocal harmonies applied to an upfront and assertive soul record - and that's a pretty glorious thing.
There's so much here that I've never heard before from artists I've never heard of that it is simpler to just recommend you check it out - if you like the premise, you'll probably like the album. However, some further highlights include Freudian Funk Band's frankly ridiculously but brilliantly titled "I'm Ambivalent About You Baby (Yes, Yes, Yes... No, No, No)", an epic put down that rolls on in a largely freestyle fashion to almost eight-minutes.
Also fantastic is the vocodered "You Win, I Lose" by Hal Bradbury, that actually sounds like what I would expect a Daft Punk track to sound like if they had made music in the 1970s, and has the kind of heartbreaking golden chorus you can't help but fall for... And TR's Hot Ice deliver something scratchy and weird that feels part punk-funk, part disco, all sunshine glory.
An album that pulls together some obscure gems from an under-appreciated style in a way that spans genres, Americana 2 is a sunshine holiday roadtrip in aural form.