Grant Nesmith: Dreams Of The Coast

Be wary of sporting a thong or swimwear showing any part of your buttocks down on Myrtle Beach, South Carolina as you may be arrested due to the local thong ordinance. Budgie-smugglers are fine though, and you should pack your wetsuit as there’s surf to be had, with a beach break close to Cherry Grove Pier.

Musician Grant Nesmith is a local, and second solo album Dreams Of The Coast blends “psych/surf sound” with American twang. “Psych” refers to “psychedelic” music as opposed to music made for or by psychopaths. “Surf sound” is not, of course, literal sounds of the sea (although this would be very relaxing), but a specific music genre characterised by multi-tracked, layered music and harmony vocals, made well known by the Beach Boys.

Nesmith has previous form with both genres; psych/surf through his previous band, Ocean Forest, and American twang with his debut album, Between Tides; the combination of these styles on Dreams Of The Coast makes for an interesting and distinctive sound.

Nesmith is clearly not afraid of experimentation, but he always uses his technical ability to evoke a feeling or tell a story; there’s the summer sun and “kaleidoscope of dreams” of the layered “Kaleidoscope” (which starts with a swirling moment of dizziness), the death wish of flying into the sun by the whistling, Icarus-like character on “Wish”, the ghostly heartbreak of “Souvenir” with its’ Beach Boys-like piano part. The music is often a heady experience – there’s the thumping drums and guitar of “Such A Crime”, and the reverb and trippy vocal of “Untitled”. “Mountaintop” conveys a great sense of energy through the circular guitar pattern alone.

The music on Dreams Of The Coast often takes flight, developing from simplicity into bigger, more complex jams, with some definitively proficient, technical playing. The impressive band includes North Myrtle Beach native Sadler Vaden (who plays in Jason Isbell’s 400 Unit and has his own solo career) on lead guitar and Gene Elders (George Strait, Lyle Lovett) on fiddle. Ed Dennis contributes pedal steel, and multi-instrumentalist Nesmith himself adds (at times, not all at once) guitar, bass, drums/percussion, piano, organ, wurlitzer, synth and banjo.

Nesmith’s vocals are engaging, and he particularly excels on the more twangy tracks; on “Another Day” (with some great fiddle by Elders) he sounds a little like Jackson Browne, on “Haunt”, as he asks “do I ever cross your mind?”, he invokes Neil Young. Shakey also comes to mind on the epic search of “Morning”, with its’ closing psych shred. The tile track, with pedal steel from Dennis, has a charming harmony vocal and is a warm meditation on nature and the summer; this track, and the album as a whole, are a cheering reminder of better days in the sun.


Label: Bandcamp
Release Date: 05 FEB 2021