Topanga Ranch Motel
Bless the acoustic guitar—the go-to instrument for rock ’n’ rollers looking to reinvent themselves as troubadours. Among the latest to unplug and rejoice is Skyline Drive main man Derek Thomas, formerly of experimental L.A. rockers 60 Watt Kid. On Topanga Ranch Motel, there’s nothing remotely innovative—just rootsy strumming, craggy singing, woe-is-me sentiments and the seriously sad pedal steel of Ryan Adams sideman Erik Kristiansen. In Thomas’ mythic Southern California, sunshine sometimes gives way to rain, and girls walk barefoot with yellow roses in their hair, waiting to break his heart. All he can do is wring out his hat, head to the saloon, and pretend he’s not enjoying every devastating second.