California X

California X

What should we make of the fact that the hard-rocking' California X comes from Amherst, Mass.: home of the mighty Dinosaur Jr., the band that epitomized the post-punk hard-guitar rock sound of the '80s and '90s? Maybe nothing and everything. Growing up in the shadow of one of the few punk-rooted bands that had some early success when it jumped to a major label is inevitable; and we can think of worse role models (insert most any failed grunge band here). Frontman Lemmy (yes, Lemmy) Gurtowsky wrings melodies out of his sludge-slinging guitar with the same ferocity as J Mascis, and on occasion—such as on the morphing opener "Sucker"—he puts such force behind his instrument that it sounds like a phalanx of players. His voice is more than decent; it's darn pleasant, in fact. The juxtaposition of his fuzz-coated, needle-in-the-red guitar with his boyish, friendly vocals is a powerful partnership. There are many highlights here, but start with the aforementioned "Sucker" and the crunching, relentless "Mummy."

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