If you thought Music City was a one-trick overly-produced pop-country pony, the ’70s-influenced smooth operators Los Colognes are here to prove you wrong.
Los Colognes’ song “Working Together” from their 2013 album of the same name recently surpassed 2 million views on Spotify. (Insert Spotify revenue joke here.)
I’m responsible for adding at least 10 more plays just this morning as I write this. The song is catchy as hell. “Working Together” sounds like it could’ve been the song Jeff Tweedy wrote six months before he wrote “I Hate It Here” from Sky Blue Sky. It also touches on The Grateful Dead’s “Touch of Grey,” which the band admits to being a big influence. They make a mosaic of ’70s-influenced sounds from the Dead and J.J. Cale to Steely Dan and Bob Dylan, as well as country music from a bygone era, and reggae and Afro-Cuban rhythms, but in their hands, it somehow seems new and refreshing.
It’s easy to see why people have gravitated to “Working Together,” but you’d be remiss not to spin the album in its entirety. Los Colognes crafted a classic album that gets better with every spin. Listening to Working Together is like driving down the highway on a summer day and tuning in to a classic rock station on your car radio.
The opening track, “King Size Bed,” is like catching the middle of Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” but two miles later the station cuts into WJAH – a reggae station. The second track, “My Doorway’s Open,” is like connecting with some mellow ’70s era Dead. The sun is out. You’re feeling good. You keep driving and suddenly your’re listening to a riff that sounds like a Nils Cline guitar line. The road and the music bleed together, and all you know is that it sounds good and you want more. And you’ve just run out of pot.
The Nashville-via-Chicago six-piece has appeared at some of the biggest festivals in the country. Working Together was well received, and they can be counted among the best in a new wave of Nashville’s brightest young groups. But they aren’t satisfied. They’re still working. And not only on their music. When they aren’t on tour, they still work restaurant jobs.
“Just to keep the lights on,” says drummer and co-founder Aaron Mortenson. “It keeps you pretty honest. It’s a reality check. You don’t really have any time to get too full of yourself.”
“I had some cheesy Music Row co-writing person that I waited on last night and she tipped me $10 on $110,” says Jay Rutherford, the guitarist and other co-founder of the group. “After bragging about her No. 1 hit she had for Blake Shelton or some dork. Yeah, it makes you work that much harder.”
Mortenson and Rutherford are taking some time to do a phone interview before a rehearsal. This month, they’re hitting the road for a string of shows on the East Coast, but now they are rehearsing, doing some press for their new record, Dos (which is due out in late summer), and, of course, working.
Los Colognes’ second record is just a natural progression of the band’s sound, says Mortenson. “It’s just trying to do what we’ve been doing – but do it better.”
“There’s maybe a little more of a Dead influence on this record,” says Rutherford. And like the Dead and the band’s beloved J.J. Cale, Los Colognes believes in letting their songs have a life of their own in the live setting.
“It’s that idea that a song can be a living thing and it doesn’t have to sound the same every time you play it,” says Rutherford.
For now, the group is excited to hit the road, release a single from Dos in a couple months and the full record later.
“In the hyper digital age where people don’t want to sit around and listen to stuff, I think we were able to come with something that will be worthwhile for 30 minutes of your life,” says Mortenson. “Put it on your car stereo and drive around. That’s usually how it works. It’s better that way.”
Kable House Presents welcomes Los Colognes to Central Market York (34 W. Philadelphia St., York) on Friday, April 24. Smith&Weeden co-headlines. 7pm doors/8pm showtime. All ages. $13. Click here for tickets.