Practitioners of an atmospheric blend of alt-country and spaced-out indie rock, Beachwood Sparks show considerable growth on this follow-up to last year's Beachwood Sparks.

Practitioners of an atmospheric blend of alt-country and spaced-out indie rock, Beachwood Sparks show considerable growth on this follow-up to last year's Beachwood Sparks. As on that debut, the Southern California quartet actively worships at the altar of Gram Parsons. But the best moments come when the band steps out of its hero's shadow and creates its own unique sound, as on the shimmering opener, "Germination," and the feedback-heavy title track. Other highlights include "Yer Selfish Ways" (which features J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. on guitar) and a cover of Sade's "By Your Side." The album suffers in the middle from one too many twangy tracks attempting to pass for modernized Flying Burrito Brothers. But the gorgeous, country-influenced rock songs that bookend the collection make Once We Were Trees a winner and Beachwood Sparks a band to keep an eye on.—BG