GREATER CALIFORNIA THE LITTLE PACIFIC
The people who make up Long Beach's Greater California may have spiked locks, but with the arty-looking, ghostly photo they sent us (we like them, so we'll avoid calling it blurry and out-of-focus), it's pretty damn hard to tell. The music, however, is refreshingly, wonderfully non-punk (or maybe it is, if "punk" ever gets back to being synonymous with "do your own thing and fuck anyone who doesn't like it"). Greater California are instead a quiet band, full of sweet melodies and wispy, moody soundscapes, sort of how a jazz ensemble would sound if they took a lot of drugs and started playing countrified waltzes and Pink Floyd covers. They tackle odd time changes and strange, exotic chord progressions ("Camera Smiles" sounds like something you would have heard in an Eastern European café 'round about 1951) and pepper them with instruments you swear shouldn't be in the mix—soft trumpet bleats, bongo beats and swaths of lovely Hammond organ. They use these to spin out airy atmospheres in songs like "Waiting" (which reminds us of a Kingsbury Manx number) and the vaguely psychedelic "Driving the 1," which, we assume, is about a long road trip, where breathy moaning and barely audible voices make the tune sound like music to shoot heroin by—not that we know; we're just saying. "Midnight #5" is a great, bluesy torch song, with imagery about the devil sitting on your shoulder—probably a sex metaphor, but all their lyrics are pretty obtuse. Terry Prine's voice is perfect for this sort of thing, that just-woke-up, lying-in-bed feeling. Then there's this great pseudo-pop cut, "Everything's Starting to Happen," which sounds a bit like Morphine without the heavy saxophones, the best Morning Becomes Eclectic song Nic Harcourt hasn't heard yet, all smoky and sexy and quite, quite groovy. A lovely band, a lovely piece of work.
OC and Long Beach bands and musicians! Mail your CDs and tapes (along with your vital contact info, plus any impending performance dates) for possible review to: Locals Only, OC Weekly, P.O. Box 10788, Costa Mesa, CA 92627-0247.
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