NO THEE NO ESS – California (Folkwit Records)

CaliforniaNo Thee No Ess are a unique Cardiff duo comprising Andy Fung and Paul Battenbough who just so happened to have released their most recent Long Player at the tail-end of last year. California draws from a range of influences from the American West Coast; including the folk-rock/ singer songwriter approach, the Bakersfield (country) sound, NorCal indie rock and the SF psych scene; where the album most noticeably appears to set its roots.

Opener, the almost ‘surfy’ ‘Mind Flow Bender’ sets the tone for the album’s meandering psychedelic vibes, creating a certain ambiance which remains constant throughout the record. Gently it flows from one song to the next, bringing a similar feeling to the likes of the mellow and distant title track and the more experimental ‘1960 Alpha’. Before long, shades of Laurel Canyon and Bakersfield subtly grace the likes of ‘Evening Breeze’, ‘Electric Hand’ and the slow moving ‘City of Dreams’ as it repeats the mantra: “Open up your mind to the possibilities of your life”. Like much of the record, these vocals ‘sit’ above the music and don’t feel forced or too intrusive, although because of this, there are also times in which they become almost too ambient, putting the song’s narrative in danger of getting lost among the sound collage of Fung and Battenbough’s imagined California.

While the album’s ‘atmosphere’ is constant, it is occasionally strayed from; in the latter part of ‘Wear Your Love/ Sylvia Plath’, in which new twists, turns and sounds are introduced, in ‘Plainsong’ and in the curiously titled ‘Moonbathing’; a track which feels less like something born out of an intrigue of the Golden State and something more reminiscent of the sounds of fellow countrymen, the Super Furry Animals.

Christopher James Sheridan

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‘Mind Flow Bender’ – official video: