While I was one of those who bitched, howled, and moaned about the supposed legitimacy of much of punk's catalog (I mean, Jesus, Crass was considered great?!?!?!), rightly so, punk in turn made rude noises and raspberries about prog, guitar solos, and various evidences of actual skill. The outfall of the entire punk venture, though, always admirable for its birdflips and political advocacies, has become increasingly interesting. Almost all Punk Syndrome was little more than overheated or underdone 60s rebel rokk, three-chord ditties littering the landscape like so much clunked-up detritus, but those who had real talent (Dave Alvin, Henry Rollins, Jello Biafra, etc.) survived in various ways, not always musical, while their latterday offspring have managed to meld much of the original piss-take energy and brash ebullience into sophisticated inspissations of the prototypes, their compeers, and then freak gestures.
Bad Weather California is just one such band in Sunkissed, ripping off the classic rock repertoire plentifully (catch the Kinks in Stand in my Sunshine sliding into Velvet Underground's Sweet Jane, among myriad other instances) in order to come up with a mutant form loaded with wry humor, clever juxtapositions, new hybrids, and an outright strangeness that more than once sits you up in your seat. Erik Lindgren (Birdsongs of the Mesozoic), David Cunningham (Flying Lizards), Nash the Slash (FM), and others pursued this muse to varying success but always in a fashion that raised eyelids and put a grin curve to the corner of the lips. Bad Weather California, however, even comes up with Godley & Creme infusions—the synth horns in When You Smile, f'rinstance—while pursuing a cool-slop folk mode or some other outré but fascinating porridge not all that distant from weird folk.
Thus, there's irrefutable evidence that the anarchistic tendencies of the last couple decades was not mere wastrelism but instead an incubation period now fermenting and running over with vectored ideas yielding such blow-outs as the truly righteous chordal breakdown that is the half-minute Freaks and Geeks here, which leads into a B-52ish intro and then the Richie Kotzen-meets-the-Muswell-Hillbillies vibe of Let it Shine. The former market for this kind of extremely entertaining and even perplexing 'novelty' music was not kind to Lindgren & Co., so we can only hope that, in the meantime, it's become less hostile and more enlightened, 'cause Bad Weather California is a rare beast of changeable skin and should be resident in more ears and i-Pods, especially when the formulaic redundancy of the radio waves starts getting you down.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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