Tidal by Brian Lopez
Tidal by Brian Lopez
A hit of psilocybin creeps up on you gently, like dipping your toes into the ocean at low tide. Venture in deeper and hazy apparitions come into clear form, companions into the deep waters of the unknown. Darkness and light, roots and sky, sadness and joy. It’s a journey celebrated Southwestern indie rocker Brian Lopez takes you on in his fourth studio album TIDAL.
Throughout, Lopez proves Tucson’s famed desert romantic has lost none of his sweet magnetism or Southwestern psychedelic tendencies. A sweeping sense of majesty – what Lopez calls “the exotic beauty that’s exclusive to the Sonoran Desert – desolate and desperate, yet breathtakingly gorgeous” – is woven
The exotic beauty that’s exclusive to the Sonoran Desert is woven into the very fabric of TIDAL.
into the very fabric of TIDAL, giving the album its anchor, and its soul. And like any good mushroom trip, you’ll emerge from TIDAL fueled by a lustrous afterglow, craving more.
Composed at his home in Tucson, Arizona during the pandemic, Lopez let his mind and fingers wander, following ideas wherever they took him. As songs took shape, he asked his friend and XIXA bandmate Gabriel Sullivan to produce the album at their very own Dust and Stone Recording Studio. Then came contributions from Calexico drummer John Convertino, KT Tunstall, Black Pumas singer Lauren Cervantes, and a dozen other musical collaborations from friends scattered across the globe.
The result is a lush, dream-like collection of songs and guitar-driven storytelling that conjure the melodic melancholy of Elliott Smith and Nick Drake and swirling atmospherics of Radiohead’s OK Computer while staying true to Lopez’s signature desert noir sound. He delves into darkness without succumbing to it – masterfully merging heartbreak with hope.
The album’s first single and opening track, ‘3000 Stories’, combines undulating synths, sweeping guitar tones and soft-sung vocals to reflect on and pay homage to the tragedy of the borderlands close to his home and the 3000 unidentified bodies found in the desert over the past two decades. Focus track for
The music video takes viewers on an illustrated psychedelic trip painted by moving shapes and colors that bring the trip inside one’s own mind.
the release, “Black Mountain,” takes grief more intimately personal as the passing of the loved one comes to revisit in spirit. Meanwhile ‘Margot Kidder’ – named after the famed Superman actor – deals with mental health and the perils of fame.
Lopez’s musical lineage – connecting him to Calexico, Giant Sand, DeVotchKa, Orkesta Mendoza, and his other musical project as co-founder and frontman of XIXA – runs deep in TIDAL. There are the Mexican folk guitars and violin strings in ‘Like A Virus’, a postcard to a COVID past that reflects on the aftermath of a prolonged solitude; the mariachi brass and nylon strum of ‘Looking Glass’, an agave-soaked ballad to a love lost; and the descending guitar arpeggios and haunting strings of ‘All Souls’, a tribute to Tucson’s Dia De Los Muertos celebrations and a recently passed friend.
One of the leading singles, “Road To Avalon” with a special guest feature and longtime friend KT Tunstall, chimes in as a standout as it taps into the memory of shared exploration and experiences between the friends around Glastonbury Festival many moons ago. The waltz-leaning single narrates less a love song, and more of one that celebrates the power of companionship as you trek on towards greater unknowns hand in hand with the trust of a friend.
The single was also accompanied by a visual counterpart conceptualized and produced by profound UK Artist 10 Years Time. The music video takes
A wild, stormy ride, the song was inspired by “a very profound mushroom trip” that Lopez experienced during the pandemic.
viewers on an illustrated psychedelic trip painted by moving shapes and colors that bring the trip inside one’s own mind, navigating the uncertain void to life.
TIDAL glows with brightness too. In “Magic,” Lopez provides an interlude he describes as “about as pop as I can be”, and ‘Face To Face’ another “touch of super pop” that nods to the idea of “just going out and spreading love…It’s the best thing we can do.”
Then there’s the album closer “Psilocybin Dream,” “feels like I’m floating out to sea” intones Lopez in a distant, spectral vocal, an apt sentiment to open a song that also references the Holy Ghost, becoming a tidal wave, and embracing eternity. A wild, stormy ride, the song was inspired by “a very profound mushroom trip” that Lopez experienced during the pandemic.
“It was incredible – transcendent,” he says of the experience. “Like witnessing the birth of the universe and feeling profoundly connected with millions of years of evolution in the form of cacti, mesquite trees, hummingbirds, and lizards all teeming with life in my backyard.”
Complete with a searing guitar solo and enrapturing brass, ‘Psilocybin Dream’ swells to a cacophonous crescendo before slinking away, a few picked notes of acoustic guitar and a final, flourished E-minor chord bringing the song – and the whole trip – to an intoxicating end.