Album: California X
Record Label: Don Giovanni Records
One of the most authentic, if not anthemic visitations to early '90s chic
Since the slackerisms and down- tuned degenerate sweetness of late '80s/ early '90s alt. rock suddenly became cool again, it has fallen into the hands of a slew of bands who have projected largely passionless and meaningless albums into the stratosphere to receive an unprecedented amount of blogosphere hype. Thankfully, there are bands like California X who seem far less contrived in their transgression, and despite wearing their influences proudly on their sleeves, it sometimes sounds like they're recapturing the sound to the most authentic extent.
In a number of places, their self- titled debut has the tunes to justify such assertions. The songs here are a culmination of simple charm, but also of thunderous playing and dirty fuzz and distortion, occasionally propelling these tracks to sky high level. "Curse of the nightmare" is a No Age- esque scuzz- punk thriller with a killer hook in the chorus. "Pond Rot" takes a leaf straight out Rivers Cuomo's songwriting book with its sludgy, slacker trawl and rising lead guitar melody and tales of being "down in the fishy deep."
There are darker moments here too, like the moments of Helmet- esque heaviness on "Hot Hed" and the dirty, furious punk rush of "Spider X."
The problem with "California X" is that there are very few moments that are significantly distinctive. No matter how hard the band play, a lot of the melodies fail to be memorable. But there are ruminations here that California X could reach monumental heights, and a handful of the tracks here would certainly sound gorgeous come the summer in fields with cheap beer and a bunch of friends.
Key tracks: Curse of the Nightmare, Lemmy's World, Spider X
For fans of: The Men, No Age, Weezer