California X erupts with youthful fearlessness on its scorching debut LP for Don Giovanni. Hailing from Amherst, MA, the band takes cues from 1970s cock-rock grind, but all of the noisy rage is packaged with hints of a softer, more melodic sound.
In the vein of homegrown legends Dinosaur Jr. and Husker Du, the album’s opener, “Sucker,” vaunts distorted guitar through an all-encompassing instrumental intro that pulses in its mix of classic power chords, smashing drums and droning riffs. While we previously heard the track on a double A-sided single b/w “Mummy,” via U.K. label the Sounds Of Sweet Nothing, here, it firmly cements California X’s fierce attitude for the rest of the album.
Fronted by main songwriter Lemmy Gurtowsky with Dan Jones on the bass and “Cool” on the drums, California X’s debut record is a profile of carefree recklessness. The thick melodic riffs rumble and roar, creating a smoky haze until a muffler in the form of smooth and simple vocals kicks in. Banging out “Curse Of The Nightmare” and “Spider X,” the trio proves itself to be well versed in the art of making a giant racket.
Much as it is a thrash-and-burn album, the self-titled release also hints at subtly sensitive undertones. Its token break-up song, “Spirit World,” is a gut-wrenching anthem. Lemmy sings, “It’s not my problem if you stay till my dying day,” with a “so what, get over it” attitude that comes to represent the album’s thematic core. Like teenagers letting it all out, California X beats up its instruments in this cymbal heavy track. This bashing out of emotions occasionally manifests in somersaulting noise, but it works, as the band takes its chaotic thoughts and puts them in a way we can understand without getting into the specifics.