BRIM “California Gold”

Royal Oakie, 2022

It’s trad, dad – California country rockers mine a rich seam, but there’s too much fool’s gold and not enough precious metal.

BRIM album coverBRIM’s debut album is intended as “a paean to the dirt-road back streets and down-to-earth humanity of rural California’s small towns and valleys.”  We’re in familiar territory straight away – the first song and title track, ‘California Gold’, is glorious, – all Byrdsy three-part harmonies, lonesome pedal steel, fuzzy guitar and a chorus that’s bigger than a canyon.  ‘In A Smile’ is much heavier – a dusty, country-rock boogie – and ‘Mudpie Kings’ has the swagger of early ‘70s Stones. Eating mud pie will give you sticky fingers…

‘Oleander’ is one of the album’s mellower moments – a so-so country-rock ballad with campfire vocals and Mexican guitar flourishes. We’re back in the ‘70s, for ‘Nothing Gold’, which is a bit too burnished – sadly, it sounds like The Eagles, rather than The Byrds – and ‘When The Evening Comes’ suffers a similar fate, but, melodically, it also manages to invoke ‘Sweet Child O’Mine’, which is never a good thing.

‘There’s More To This World’ is much better – starting with what could be a long-lost Velvet Underground guitar riff, then adding some organ and throwing in a blissful, sun-kissed chorus that sounds like it’s been dug up from Brian Wilson’s sandbox. From ‘Do It Again’ to, er, ‘Won’t Do It Again’ – with more organ and a Tom Petty vibe. Final song, ‘Shadowland’, isn’t as dark as its title suggests, but it is the moodiest thing here – sprawling, Neil Young-style rock.

Written and recorded in the band’s hometown of Visalia, California, these songs were laid down over the course of three summer days. BRIM were formed by singer-songwriter Daniel Rice and bandmate Hayden Doyel, as a rootsy side-project to their psychedelic hard-rock band, Slow Season, now known as Westing. Rice’s wife, ReNelle, joined to flesh out the sound with keys and backing vocals.  The album is currently available as a digital release but a physical version will be out in the UK/Europe this August. Dig deep – this isn’t a 24-carat record – it’s too workmanlike at times – but there’s gold in them thar hills if you look hard enough.


About Sean Hannam 76 Articles
Freelance journalist, editor and presenter. Digs retro specs,The Smiths,Dylan,Cash,Richard Hawley, Scott Walker, Lee Hazlewood, country / Americana and '50s/'60s pop.
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