Snowbyrd’s newest release is sort of a tribute to late drummer Manny Castillo, but as former Current music expert Gilbert Garcia points out in the liner notes, it “won’t allow you to grieve.” There’s just too much going on. After a 20-second noise-collage intro (“Woodlawn Lake Rendezvous”),“Light It Up” kicks things off with an appropriately ’60s-sounding ode to that decade’s practice of “blazing up” gas streetlights to keep the harpies and Jack the Ripper away (I think) — a perfect soundtrack to one of those beach-party movies if the kids had a little better taste in music.
“Uvalde Socialite” and Taco Land tribute “Minx of Melee” ride that same vibe — Britpop via California with a distinct South Texas swagger (the lack of twang in Chris Dor Lutz’s voice is more than made up for in brother Scott Allen Lutz’s pedal steel) — but “Crystal Blue” is a gear shift. Somehow, this track, which packs a High Plains Drifter menace and gets psychedelic in the roughest way possible (you like that, hippie?), transitions seamlessly into bubblegum power-pop explosion “Evening Star.” “Is It On?” meanwhile, packs a grand, suite-worthy statement into three minutes; “Halcyon Days” might be called restrained glam-rock if that weren’t a complete oxymoron; and “Cooling Cycles” finds the ambient groove in a noisy clothes dryer. Castillo’s drumming, like nearly everything else on the album, remains on-point but unpredictable throughout.
— Jeremy Martin
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