California X - Nights in the Dark

by Steve Reynolds Rating:9 Release Date:2014-01-12

Every now and again something exciting rips up the rule book and kicks like a mule to silence all the scenesters and fakers. From the opening grind of California X's 'Sucker', you know you are enlightening yourself to something which has been amiss musically for a while. Their sound is a cauldron of all our favourite anti-heroes: The abrasive production of Big Black; the garage row of Mudhoney; the riffs of Dinosaur Jr, the metal power of Motorhead; the arrangement of Husker Du, and the anger of post-Nevermind Nirvana. It's an impressive cauldron, yeah?

Oh yeah, it's a real breath of fresh air, so if you like your music heavy, with gallons of melody and a sense of not taking itself too seriously this is your new favourite band. The bludgeoning guitars don't just slack off after six-minute opener 'Sucker', they keep climbing and climbing with no fear or sign of stopping on 'Curse of the Nightmare'. The bass simply rolls on through against the sharp riffs, while lead vocalist Lemmy Gurtowsky sneers with all the vitriol and urgent anguish of a man on a mission.

Lemmy declares, "I wanna pond to rot in" on, erm, 'Pond Rot' but leaves the majority of the song to the rip-roaring sound of three blokes enjoying themselves beyond their dreams. He also has a neat line in self-deprecation: "I don't want to lose my mind/ It's failed me once, it's failed me 40 times", on the riff-maniac 'Hot Hed'. There is an extreme amount of power in California X's tank and it shows no signs of letting up, especially on the bouncing 'Spider X'. If I can replicate the feeling it would be summed up in the following simile: Like eating a mouthful of sherbet while being incessantly chucked about on a death slide with no sign of getting off.

Fucking hell, this is very worthy of your time. Just listen to the frenetic 'Mummy', which simply cascades into a hell-hole of power chords and belligerent noise. Yes, there are nods towards 90s American indie-rock and sludge core, and California X might be classed as a parody of all the bands mentioned, but why should that matter when it sounds this good and exciting? A mighty fine kick up the arse for early 2013.

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