Greater California

Somber Wurlitzer

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Somber Wurlitzer Review

by John D. Luerssen

Long Beach-based Greater California recorded its sophomore album in dimly lit rooms between the hours of midnight and five in the morning over the course of a year, which goes a long way to explain the sonic mood of Somber Wurlitzer. Launched with the bleak but beautiful "The Appearing," which sounds like an outtake from R.E.M.'s Automatic for the People, the band quickly explores Zombies-styled psychedelia on "Looking In" and keeps to the retro-feel for "Jersey Thursday." As the disc's title hints, Greater California has built an impressive concept album around the hypnotic tones of its recently acquired Wurlitzer electric piano, however it doesn't always succeed. The Association-inspired harmonies on "Portuguese Hall" can't salvage the song's infectiously grating design, and the album's closing title cut isn't the pensive opus one suspects it could have been. Still, the band uses 1960s pop touches with the same effectiveness as Beck on "Missing Summer," and the Shins on the sparkling "In Scarlet," making Somber Wurlitzer a disc to own if you're a fan of the aforementioned.

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