The theme to Bad Weather California’s sophomore album, Sunkissed, on the Family Tree record label, is the sun – how it shines when you’re hanging at the beach, skateboarding down a street, or just killing time making love and getting busted for weed on a sunny California afternoon.
Tommy James and The Shondells said it: “There’s a ball of fire in the sky, it keeps watching over you and I” (“Ball of Fire”). So did beloved mid-’60s pop band, The Cyrcle: “The worst is over now, the morning sun is shining like a red rubber ball” (“Red Rubber Ball,” written by Paul Simon). All three bands agree, the sun is – there.
Bad Weather California offers a Vitamin C-enriched celebration of blessedly ignorant youth with an element of teenage reckless danger, as if ’60s cartoon band The Archies (“Sugar, Sugar”) were to break with convention and rob a liquor store.
A flash of fluid, exotic West African guitar highlights this teen tribe’s dopey, surfer-without-a-cause songs, which are all about smiling, sunshine, loving, and hot guitar licks. Picture a laid back beach party bonfire you feel compelled to approach. In no time you find yourself stripped to your skivvies and joining in on an awkward teen dance to the Sun Ra. Meanwhile the kids are passing around a joint and experiencing a cosmic connection to – well, everything.
The most compelling track, “Let It Shine” (“Sunshine! Taking me home!”) features a Richie Valens-like guitar plugging rhythm into a funky, downbeat, hand-clapping jam which reaches fever like a hot Calypso number begging you to the dance floor.
When they’re not hanging at the beach, cooing lovemaking, or lamenting the stems and seeds at the bottom of their stash, they’re championing rockabilly stomp, Jesus and Mary Chain slop, and precious Green Day teen philosophy. Given the thirtysomething photo of the band on their CD, a proud arrested development prevails. Mom and Dad will just never understand, man.
Produced by Akron/Family’s guitarist Seth Olinsky (the difference between the two bands seems to be that Akron/Family prefers doing their drugs indoors), Bad Weather California’s Sunkissed is for anyone who ever allowed the sun to kiss their shoulders while gazing at the ocean as mom and pop pointed to an NPR-light-jazz listening future.