• lee bob watson Aficionado (CD, £10.25)

    label: Grass Roots Record Co.

    Known for his work with California rockers JACKPOT, dubbed by The New York Times as "one of California's greatest unknown bands", as well as punk-gospel band SANTA CRUZ GOSPEL CHOIR, Sacramento, CA native LEE BOB WATSON has been a powerful force in music for 10 years. For Aficionado, Watson enlisted former CAKE drummer Todd Roper, current CAKE bassist Gabe Nelson and Jackpot singer and guitarist Rusty Miller and a handful of Northern California's finest talent. With help from esteemed producer Dana Gumbiner, the crew recorded the album in just 10 days, relying mostly on live-takes and minimal overdubs. The songs on Aficionado grapple with the quest for authenticity in a culture that is based on recycled themes and sounds. "So much of our generation spends a lot of time rehashing the glory days of pop culture," Watson comments, "you've got to take your influences and let them breathe in the room." The result is a captivating album that serves as a playground for decades of sounds to intermingle. Opener "Landfill" sends a strong statement about the land on which the American Dream was built with a twangy-rock swagger and perfectly placed steel guitar. "Living in the Past" brings electronic-disco funk to life with a back-beat that would make Bill Withers proud. Beach Boys-inspired harmonies burst alongside Watson's velvety croon on "Highway 1 Sunset" and gentle lullaby "Rosalita's Arms" brings the album to a sweet finish with saintly soprano choruses and dainty piano tingles.

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