California X – Nights in the Dark
“Please be kind,” begs Lemmy Gurtowsky, but there’s really no need. See, California X trade in the simple art of riffs’n’hooks, and they do so with more than a touch of righteous urgency. Merging drop D grunge with dinosaur schlock, the title track is equal parts artful craftsmanship and a wilfully dumb, rock-hard-and-now sensibility; as heroically uncomplex as Cheap Trick after a plaid makeover and subtly, moreishly smart with it.
A couple of instrumental link tracks point to wider textural capabilities, particularly bass-led hypnothon Garlic Road, but ultimately they’re little more than nicely-timed palette-cleansers between courses of thick, gloopy fuzz. In any case, the primal sludge of the two-part Blackrazor is Nights in the Dark at its best, all muscular chugs and squiggled guitar heroics that barely suppress the plaintive pop lurking within – that they’re almost certainly loser punk nerds posing as lunkhead caveman rockers only adds to their delightful, if not yet world-beating charm. [Will Fitzpatrick]