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OLD CALIFORNIO
Westering Again

Damn! These guys are good! In fact, they are what the Eagles should be and aren't. They rock out, blend voices like pros and, when they want, put on the chaps for a ride down a country road, without the twang. They crunch like Crazy Horse, pull in just enough 60s Brit Rock to keep it interesting and sound like the best of the 70s. They have the drive of Heartsfield and the smooth harmonies of Pure Prairie League or Cowboy. At times, they are Cat Mother on a great night, and I know because I caught them on a great night.

Yet Old Californio isn't derivative. When they sound like someone else, it is the ghost of your musical past and not theirs. For myself, I hear early Eagles vocals here and there, sometimes between some of the best guitar licks this side of Illinois Speed Press and the Hoodoo Gurus (Warmth of the Sun), Elton John-like lyrics and vocals with Beatle-esque guitar (Harmony) and even a momentary touch of Marmalade (Lazy Old San Gabriels). I hear Paul Cotton-fronted Poco and Bruce Hornsby and Chris Berardo and the Desberardos, those country rockin' yokels from the East Coast.

Rich Dembowski wrote all ten songs, every one a stunner. I mention it because he deserves it. You'll undoubtedly hear more from him.

Oh, yeah. Westering Again is from a John Steinbeck work, The Leader of the People, taken from The Red Pony. In case you were wondering.

Tell you what. I'm afraid to write anything more. Music this good should not be talked about. It should be heard. Comes in a great hand-screened cover, too. Do yourself a favor. Head over to their MySpace page and take a listen. Better yet, just order it. If you don't, you might be missing your album of the year. It's in my Top Five and moving higher with each listen.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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