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West Coast

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Album Review

It might be a strange title given the album was recorded in Mississippi, but then again, calling it West Coast after the river's geography would be a little misleading (and more to the point, would actually be about Louisiana). A quick blast of nine entertaining songs, West Coast shows that Junk Culture aka Deepak Mantena actually has an ear for that kind of mythic (and often heavily Beach Boys-informed) place celebrated by acts from as far afield as the High Llamas as much as onsite performers with their own style like Spirit, a location of the mind that is constantly breezy and airy. Crucially, however, Junk Culture doesn't re-create endless sessions of Smile so much as pulverize and rework them — songs like the title track chop up bursts of vocal sweetness and uplifting melodies over breaks and beats, not revelatory in terms of new sampling approaches by any means, but perfectly accomplished at setting a slightly unexpected mood. Sometimes the results are pleasant, other times there's an actual sense of full drama, as on "American Minute Song" when a few whispers of "Check...check..." eventually lead into a fuller break. A quiet sense of humor doesn't hurt — thus, naming what sounds like a slightly woozy gamelan break "For Elise" as a reference to the Beethoven piano classic, though heaven knows what the classical performer might think of it. (Also, points for having a song called "Carmel Valley Girls" that sounds like a random anime robot lost in a weird underground tunnel — simply because that's probably the most un-Carmel Valley-like setting possible).

West Coast, Junk Culture
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