There's a (relatively new) record store in Oakland called Contact Records. I have yet to walk out empty handed, and every visit is filled with pleasant conversation and new (typically non punk) discoveries. It seems like every point of focus for the (tiny) store is just so impossibly and casually cool that you want to explore long dismissed subgenres just to see what you've (apparently) been missing all these years. Once it was Electronic Music vol IV, another time it was a random ALAN WATTS meditation record from 1977. I first heard LES FILLES DE ILLGHADAD in that little store, and also picked up a copy of Troops Of Tomorrow for a nice price, just to remind myself that punk rules. Point is that these fools are easy going taste makers, and I take their recommendations and suggestions seriously and am rarely disappointed. So a while ago when I was checking out with CHRIS AND COSEY's Heartbeat and the MICHAEL CHAPMAN Window reissue (which is honestly not quite as good as I had hoped, but I was buying on trade, and gambling is way more fun when you're gambling with trade) and I spied this Contact curated/created mix tape at the register I was intrigued. I'm a shameless country fan, this is no secret, but the crossroads of country, desert rock, drugs and singer/songwriters is an intersection that leads to a deep dark hole that can be intimidating....and it helps if someone is willing to hold your hand. We all know WAYLON and BUCK OWENS, we all at least know of MOBY GRAPE and THE FLYING BURRITO BROTHERS, but DOUG SAHM, GOSDIN BROTHERS and BARBARA FAITH deliver some serious tonnage on this comp and who knew the fukkn EVERLY BROTHERS rolled this deep in the psychedelic wonderworld? MASON PROFIT and DAVID WIFFEN were also new to me, but it's the sum of parts that makes Astral Maps so damned perfect....I cannot imagine a better desert driving collection. It's like the aural version of spending two weeks in the Mojave avoiding all of the temporary desert transplants from Los Angeles while secretly kicking yourself as you realize that goddammit they got this one right. This one is going to get a lot of spins in the van on road trips with The Lady, and I now have a slew of new (to me) studs to dig for in the record stalls in those small town antique malls. No shame in being late to the game.