The Dying Californian

Coarsegold

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The third album by Bay Area singer/songwriter Nathan Dalton's alt country outfit the Dying Californian has a spacy-twangy overall vibe pitched somewhere between Neil Young at his most stripped down and the less psychedelic end of Grandaddy. For the most part, anyway: second track "Second Shadow" kicks into noisy indie rock overdrive à la Guided by Voices, providing both an interesting stylistic change-up and hints of a potentially fruitful new direction. It's worth Dalton exploring, anyway, because much of Coarsegold is fairly anodyne, unmemorable alt country with little to differentiate itself from the sound of several similar bands. There are exceptions, like the echo-drenched instrumental spaciousness of the title track, and the appropriately mournful two-part tune that bookends the album, "The Cry Inside the Stone." But for each of those, there are two pleasant but forgettable bits of studied Americana like "Blurred Just the Same." The good parts are worth seeking out, but they're fairly rare, making Coarsegold a rather more on-the-nose album title than Dalton perhaps expected.

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