California X | Nights in the Dark (Don Giovanni Records)

californiax 75Nights in the Dark is a perfect balance of hard rock and smooth ballads, capturing a myriad of emotion and displaying awesome guitar solos.

Nights in the Dark is a lot of fun. It starts off with a party vibe from the first two tracks, “Nights in the Dark” and “Red Planet.” Both of these are songs I would expect and want to hear while getting drinks with friends, because they are fun songs to rock out to. Beyond making me want to get up and dance, both songs offer cool guitar solos showing off the talent of the group.

The third track, “Ayla’s Song” surprised me. It’s a soft guitar ballad following two heavy rocker tunes, but I love it. This instrumental track is absolutely beautiful, and while it’s the shortest song on the album, it transports me to a place of tranquility. It’s a very nice contrast to the opening tracks because it shows California X’s versatility.

“Hadley, MA” was the first release, and I can see why. This track encompasses the entire album; it captures the contrast between edgy rock and soft ballad in a single song. It’s fast enough to dance to, but also slow enough to either nod your head or just sway along to. This isn’t a song you have to be in the mood for; rather, you can get into it regardless of what mood you’re in.

The vocals leave something to be desired—but they are not the focus of this album. The focus in the music—the beats, the layers of melodies and harmonies, the guitar solos—and in those aspects, California X nailed it. I found myself replaying a lot of the songs to catch every single riff because they do a lot of really cool things, musically. The music has a nice balance of upbeat and slow pieces that it is sure to reflect your mood and feelings at some point during the set.

Nights in the Dark is the perfect title for this album. This is music I want to listen to late at night. It puts me in a good mood and ready to have a good time, and even has those slow moments for when I’ve been dancing too much and want to relax for a couple minutes.

There is no doubt that California X is talented; from song to song, the sound is seamless. Although each track is unique in itself and I would not say that any two songs sound the same, the entire album is still easily identifiable as the work of California X. I am partial to the guitar solos, but a shout-out must also be given to the drum work and power chords. These guys pour their heart and soul into their music—I can feel it through my speakers. A | Samantha LaBat

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