The Jigsaw Seen

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Winterland Review

by Jack Rabid

First this L.A. psych-pop quartet returns from a decade between proper LPs on 2010's excellent Bananas Foster; now they hit back with this more baroque rock masterpiece -- even more ambitiously, supremely crafted. The theme of Jonathan Lea and Dennis Davison's songs, extolling the icy season, might seem puzzling from a place where it's 75 degrees every January -- you'd expect "Winterland" to refer instead to the demolished San Francisco hall of Jimi Hendrix/Last Waltz/Sex Pistols renown -- but those who miss something most, value it most. So in the spirit of Angelinos Wednesday Week's "Christmas Here" from 1984 (Kristi Callan sings a backing vocal here), "Snow Angels of Pigtown" and "Winterland's Gone" feel that ache. Greater than an audacious, interesting concept LP, though, is the beguiling pop-art-psych beauty that fills this wondrous work. References? Pretty Things' Parachute, Bee Gees' Odessa, Moody Blues' Days of Future Past, Love's Forever Changes, Syd Barrett's The Madcap Laughs, Hollies' For Certain Because..., Beach Boys' 20/20, and lately, Baby Lemonade and Darker My Love. (Also dig Kinks legend Dave Davies guesting on a 1974 Sundown Gordon Lightfoot cover, paying back Lea for playing in his tour band.) Prettier and more opaquely polished than Bananas, the group goes for it, adding sweeteners to the '60s-esque stew -- bottomless acoustic guitars, McCartney-esque basslines (the standout "Candy Cane"), oldie organs, Mellotron, sleigh bells, and woodwinds -- enriching an album impossible to dismiss once you discover it.

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