Los Angeles duo Mapache was formed by longtime friends Clay Finch and Sam Blasucci as they grew from skateboarders to bonding over folk-rock legends like Neil Young and the Grateful Dead. Their warm harmonies and dusky acoustic jams are less Americana and more California-centered, with spare but kindhearted songs evoking images of West Coast mountains, Pacific Oceanside scenes, and the generally mellow vibes in sync with the Golden State. Their self-titled debut collects 11 Cali-centric songs that breeze by with all the ambling grace of their '70s role models. "Mountain Song" sets the scene with lush dual vocal harmonies and simple guitar figures opening up into understated rhythm accompaniment and gliding pedal steel guitar. Lyrics about long drives up State Route 1 and warm surroundings place the song distinctly in California, and the instrumentation sounds somewhere between the Grateful Dead's most relaxed folk material and Gram Parsons demos. Lazy harmonies and traditional country instrumentation make songs like "Chico River" sound like they were lifted directly from mid-'70s country-crossover albums. The effect is nostalgic, down to the hazy production quality and instruments buried in the mix. Much like Mapache's contemporaries the Allah-Las know how to perfect a throwback take on surfy garage, Mapache's sound is a drifting but meticulous redesign of '70s country-rock. Highlights like "In the Morning Light" bring together this dreamy stylistic re-creation with strong songwriting, making for the album's best material. While not all the songs rise to this high bar, the entire album exists in a consistent atmosphere of California contentment.
AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas