Breaking: Cotton Jones

April 22, 2009 12:52 PM ET

Who: Cotton Jones, formerly operating under the more unwieldy moniker Cotton Jones Basket Ride, were born when Michael Nau and Whitney McGraw of of folk-popsters Page France got the urge to roam. The pair decided to set up shop under a different musical roof to fully embrace their shared love of '60s psych-pop. "Things naturally change over a period of time," says Nau, "and we felt like it just didn't make sense to make another Page France record."

Sounds Like: Bucolic, sun-dappled psychedelia made for a summer afternoon of lying face-up in a field and watching the clouds drift by. On their debut Paranoid Cocoon, Nau and McGraw's misty vocal blend evokes Mazzy Star and Vetiver melting marshmallows together around a campfire, while Nau's guitar lines drip down like slow-poured honey, and McGraw's trilling organ makes you wonder why every year can't be 1967.

Vital Stats:

• Nau listens to a lot of '60s pop to get his juices flowing because "there's a certain warmth sonically... it always feels good. Right now I'm listening to a lot of Burt Bacharach's Reach Out album. I obsess over many things for a period of time, [like] Harry Nilsson, I love listening to him sing." But for all his Aquarian-age passions, Nau feels the Doors comparisons the band sometimes gets are off-base. "I don't think we're as musically extravagant as that sort of psychedelic rock music, we just kind of play what we know to play."

• Cotton Jones' laid-back, open-air sound has a lot to do with the small-town vibe and mountain-dotted setting of the band's Cumberland, Maryland home base. "It's real chill, not many people," says Nau of his hometown. "Cumberland itself is just some hills and old schools and churches." He feels that the mellow, breezy mood of Paranoid Cocoon "has to do with where I'm living and where I've grown up — more so than that what I've taken from music. Spending my time here and being a part of this place, naturally it influences what I write about."

• Though other musicians are involved both live and on record, at its core Cotton Jones is all about the tight connection between kindred spirits Nau and McGraw. "The only reason either of us are doing it is because we're doing it together," says Nau. "It's just always felt right, we've never really questioned it, [her voice] makes it all real to me. I'd like to get Whitney doing most of the singing, if not all, on future releases."

Get It Now: Paranoid Cocoon is out now, and Cotton Jones are on tour (see new dates, below). Plus, watch the video above for a special acoustic performance of "Blood Red Sentimental Blues" and below for "Less Than Positive." Plus get a listen to "Gotta Cheer Up."

5/22 - Bloomington, IN @ Bear's Place
5/23 - Chicago, IL @ Schubas*
5/24 - Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry*
5/26 - Denver, CO @ Hi Dive*
5/27 - Salt Lake, UT @ Kilby Court*
5/29 - Seattle, WA @ The Triple Door*
5/30 - Portland, OR @ Doug Fir
5/31 - Eugene, OR @ Sam Bond's Garage**
6/2 - San Francisco, CA @ Café Du Nord**
6/4 - Los Angeles, CA @ Spaceland**
6/5 - San Diego, CA @ Bar Pink**
6/6 - Tucson, AZ @ Plush**
6/8 - Denton, TX @ The Hydrant
6/9 - Austin, TX @ Emo's
6/13 - Manchester, TN @ Bonnaroo
6/14 - Atlanta, GA @ Drunken Unicorn***
6/16 - Chapell Hill, NC @ Local 506^
6/17 - Charlotteville, VA @ Outback Lounge^
6/18 - Arlington, VA @ IOTA Club & Cafe^
6/19 - Philadelphia, PA @ M Room^
6/20 - Brooklyn, NY @ Union Hall
6/21 - Cambridge, MA @ Middle East^
6/23 - Buffalo, NY @ Big Orbits Soundlab
6/24 - Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Tavern

* w/ Lightning Dust
** w/ The Parson Red Heads
*** w/ Peter Silberman (of The Antlers) ^ w/ The Antlers

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