88 SUNDAYS - CALIFORNIA (2006, SILENT ECHO)
Jeff Cole - guitars, bass, keyboards, vocals
Joe Robinson - drums
The name 88 Sundays indicates the length of time taken to record this labour of love by Cole and Robinson, or as they put it more simply '88 weeks'. Both men are part of Philadelphia based act Octover
, who have been on the local scene some fifteen years, doing the club circuit and recording two full cd's worth of material. Cole and Robinson decided to pursue a new project that would display changes they had made in their songwriting, and the music of 'California' represents their personal disillusion with the American Dream and the poor state of the nation as they see it. Opting to use California as the basis for their concept, the pair explaining that the state is seen as the great hope of many, this is an often bleak album with no AOR overtones, but many contrasting styles, mainly modern rock with various shadings combined that make for often invigorating yet dreary listening.
Citing The Beatles
and Led Zeppelin
as key influences, it is easy to hear their love for both represented at certain points, particularly 'We'll Be Fine', which incorporates Beatles
like horn work with mystical Zeppelin guitar lines in an acoustical dream state. Lead track 'Imitation Life' has a psychedelic chorus, with more Jimmy Page
riffing, as the pair explore the falsity of life in sunny California. Quite reserved is 'It's All Been Done Before', which sums the album up nicely, jangly, fuzzy rock with weepy guitar work and little sense of hope. Must have been listening to a touch too much Pete Townshend
circa 1975. 'California Part 1' while more hard rocking, is hardly knockout material, as if caught in an LSD haze, before leading into 'Part 2' which is similar, with huge grunge riffs at the forefront. 'B.I.T.S. (Born In the Sixties)' attempts to recreate vocal harmonies of that decade, namely the Beach Boys
or the Mamas And Papas
. The downtrodden theme continues with 'Release Me', another feedback laden piece of grunge, that the album thrives on. Sadly the melody lines are often buried in this wall of noise that masks any chorus with promise.
A personal statement from 88 Sundays and not the most positive one, but that's not always possible naturally and it's admirable of the pair to put all their resources into a subject that they believe in, seeing little inspiration around them in 2006. AOR fans need not apply to 'California' as there's nothing resembling uplifting or sweeping chord changes complete with synthesizer touches to be found. This is geared more for those who enjoy their rock darker, not overly heavy with distorted guitar work. Not for everyone's tastes but you could do far worse also.
01 Imitation Life
02 It's All Been Done Before
03 California Part 1
04 California Part 2
05 We'll Be Fine
06 Way Back Home
07 Enlighten Me
08 B.I.T.S. (Born in the Sixties)
09 Release Me
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