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Art History

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Editors’ Notes

Aggression and atmosphere both count for a great deal on California Wives’ debut album Art History. The Chicago quartet puts a 21st Century spin on some familiar ideas, combining the moody simmer of New Order with the instrumental bite of the Police. Lead singer Jayson Kramer’s cool persona lends an ironic elegance to the propulsive rhythms and glossy sonic backdrops the band favors. Art History is steeped in ‘80s ambiance both musically and lyrically — the wistful alienation wafting through tracks like “Blood Red Youth” and “The New Process” recall the New Romantics of the Reagan Era. California Wives flirt with the bouncy Europop of A-ha on “Marianne” and wrap themselves in gauzy synth layers on “Photolights.” Subdued tunes like “Better Homes” and “The Fisher King” both caress and disturb the listener. When they choose, the band can fire their guitars on all cylinders, as the hard-pumping “Purple” shows. “Twenty Three” finds them offering an unexpectedly warm (if somewhat sketchy) portrait of a fashionable young woman. All told, Art History is a smart and stylish song collection, with an evident sly intelligence around its polished contours.

Customer Reviews

love these guys

ever since i saw the sharpie commercial i fell inlove with their music like wow im so glad their is still good bands out here. keep up the good work california wives. i love you guys so much


I've liked these guys' sound since seeing them open for Peter Hook and the Light at the Metro last year or so. Picked up their Affair ep at that time and their songs have been in rotation with my smart playlists since.

Solid 80's/90's British modern alternative rock influences are present here along with their own style. Hope they go far since I'm a fan for anything influenced by New Order.

Standout album tracks for me are 1, 2, 4, and 11.


Awesome song should put on rock band


Formed: 2009 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Chicago quartet California Wives were formed in 2009 by multi-instrumentalists Dan Zima and Hans Michel along with drummer Joe O'Connor. These three musicians were quickly rounded out by Jayson Kramer, another multi-instrumentalist, with a focus on guitar and keyboards. The band developed a sound based on a strong '80s new wave and pop influence, blending the dancey bounce of Prince, the Police, and Culture Club with more electronic synth pop nods toward New Order or Human League. Early in its existence,...
Full Bio
Art History, California Wives
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Customer Ratings