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Cotton Jones: 'Gotta Cheer Up'

Cotton Jones is a young band still going through a lot of transitions. But its debut LP, Paranoid Cocoon, has the confidence and ingenuity of a well-seasoned act, due in no small part to the contributions of singers Michael Nau and Whitney McGraw. Both were in a previous group called Page France, a band from Baltimore, MD that drew a devoted following for its distinctive blend of folk-pop and rock.

As Cotton Jones, Nau and McGraw have a sound that's both rich and delightfully lo-fi, with vivid imagery and gorgeous melodies. Though the songs are lush and, at times, otherworldly, they're far from being overly sleepy or one-dimensional. This is mostly because of the mesmerizing harmonies of Nau and McGraw.

Despite its young age, the idea of Cotton Jones was a long time coming. Nau holds that even when he was still committed to Page France, ideas for a new project crept into his thoughts. Country and folk influences also creep into Cotton Jones. With traces of Johnny Cash, McGraw's vocals, and undertones of bands like Mazzy Star or Beach House, Cotton Jones offers an interesting twist on this classic and familiar Western sound.

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Rachel Kowal