Sigh & a Smile

So what can we deconstruct about Wellsville? For one, they scribbled us a friendly letter on lined notebook paper, apologizing for not being appropriately teched-up ("I am terribly sorry that this letter is hand-written, but my printer is out of ink, and I wanted to get this to you in a timely manner"). Of course, that was more than a month ago, which shows you how long it takes us to open our mail. The missive dripped with earnestness, suggesting that this Long Beach trio are possibly high school kids rebelling against the dictatorial rules of what they hear on the radio and see on MTV. Okay! We'll go with that.

And how do they pull off this anarchy? By crafting expertly formed, hooky pop songs, sprinkled with copious amounts of aural history that shows they've been raiding their parents' vinyl collections. "West Coast," for example, has a fittingly twangy surf lilt to it, all innocent and breezy. Unlike some Beach Boys-esque slab o' fantasy, though, this tune's about a girl who's moving to Cali purely to leave her sorry-ass boyfriend behind. So long, sucker!

Elsewhere, "Endless Mike" finds Wellsville all jingle-jangled-out, like they've unearthed a lost Byrds nugget. "Dumb As Dirt" is beefier, hazier, more Velvet Undergroundy or like something off REM's Murmur album (any aspiring rock band should have at least one mumbly song like this in their catalog). "Kill Myself" is, naturally, one of the disc's bubbliest, bounciest cuts. "Almost Blind in One Eye" drones on for six minutes yet maintains an alluring, seductive haunt that keeps it interesting. "Silence Is My Gun"—love these titles!—is a masterful blend of slowly building tension and release. Maybe the best, sweetest thing on here, though, is the unnamed track at the end, a warm acoustic guitar love song so drenched with sincerity that you can't help but let out a sigh and a smile. Wellsville are swellsville, baby!


Wellsville perform at the Gypsy Lounge, 23600 Rockfield Blvd., Lake Forest, (949) 206-9990. Thurs., March 28, 9 p.m. $6. 21+. 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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