17 Jun 2015
The Parson Red Heads "In a Hazy Dream (Retrospective 2004-2014)"
Reviewed by Nathan Ford
Our prime directive here at the Active Listener is exposing you to bands whose audience is only a fraction of the size that it should be. And Portland quartet the Parson Red Heads may well be the epitome of the 'under-appreciated band'. Sure, they've got fans (and anyone who hears their music tends to become one of these), but this is a band who should be reaching millions, not thousands of listeners.
The Byrds meet Big Star, with a healthy dose of the Jayhawks on these exquisite country-pop gems. There are certainly correllations to be made between the Parson Red Heads, and another band beloved of Active Listener readers - the Young Sinclairs. Both channel vintage influences into fresh, timeless songs, which are more than the sum of their influences.
Their albums have been produced by the likes of Mitch Easter (early R.E.M producer), Chris Stamey (The dBs), and Scott McCaughey (The Minus 5), and there's a very simple reason that this trio of jangle kings have been involved; the Parson Red Heads' Evan Way writes absolutely knock-your-socks-off songs, and sings them with total conviction. "Seven Years Ago" effortlessly brushes aside anything by much more high profile heartbreak-country-janglers like Band of Horses.
While not serving as a suitable substitute for their albums (which are all frankly essential), this well chosen collection is a welcome opportunity for the masses to have their eyes and ears opened to some of the best, most heartfelt songs of the last ten years. And for fans, it'll be the first opportunity to hear a number of these songs on vinyl - including a genreous selection of songs from their hard to find E.Ps.
Available here (EU/UK) and here (US) - their back catalogue can be found here.