In less than a year, Amherst trio California X have emerged from basements and punk practice spaces of Massachusetts as one of the tightest new garage punk bands in the Northeast, teetering between various pockets of the punk spectrum — drawing influence from the worlds of noisy 80s Western Mass rock, fuzzy 90s garage pop, and classic post-hardcore SST sounds. Fronted by main songwriter Lemmy Gurtowsky, their debut LP for Don Giovanni follows one prior release, a double A-side single “Sucker” b/w “Mummy” out via the UK’s Sound of Sweet Nothing label. From start to finish, the record’s eight hook-heavy tracks of melodic guitar punk could all be singles: the noisy vox and huge grungy riffs on “Curse of the Nightmare”; the slower-burning head-banging pulse of “Pond Rot”; the shoegaze-inflicted fleshed-out melodies of “Lemmy’s World”. Songs like “Hot Hed” feels so essential you’ll wonder how they’re not actually from some long-lost punk tapes of the 1980s Western Mass. Appropriately, the band recorded the album in MA with Justin Pizzoferrato, previously a collaborator with Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr – and though California X sound like they could have been contemporaries with those bands, they’re also carving out their own space in a lineage of their hometown’s punk history. ""I want a pond to rot in" isn't exactly a call to arms, but as the refrain from California X's first single off their upcoming self-titled debut, it's tough to think of anything that more accurately describes their goals of self-actualization. If "grunge" or "swamp-rock" wasn't already part of the public lexicon, they're amongst the first two descriptors you'd levy on "Pond Rot." The riffs are thick and slow, yet maintain a surprisingly viscous sense of melody that isn't obscured by the heavy fuzz, while the vocals sag like they're wrapped in worn flannel. Here, the Amherst, MA trio are forthrightly acknowledging a debt to hometown heroes Dinosaur Jr., embracing the primordial pop sense of their earliest work while picking up at the point where they finally got some decent production."
released January 15, 2013
Recorded and Mixed by Justin Pizzoferrato at Sonelab
Mastered by Carl Saff
Artwork by Lemmy Gurtowsky and Dan Jones
Photography by Allison Kern
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