Hailing from the college town of Amherst, Massachusetts, California X follows the alt-rock tradition that Dinosaur Jr. and other Western Mass. brethren popularized in the 1980s and '90s. The trio's debut LP for Don Giovanni Records is a ragged dose of mid-tempo garage punk -- plenty of melody but full of string bends, wailing rock riffs, and fuzz and feedback.
Much of the material, particularly in timbre and lo-fi sensibility, recalls those progenitors. But it also wouldn't sound out of place on something polished like Weezer’s blue album or Hum’s Downward is Heavenward, and the album has enough hooks to hang the coats of the city's modest population.
Principal songwriter Lemmy Gurtowsky still is coming into his own as a front-man, but between the album's abundance of riffs and melodies, California X has tunes for the present and promise for the future.
- Scott Morrow