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Music Geek Track of the Week: Mazzy Star – “California”

Music Geek Track of the Week: Mazzy Star – “California”

Today I find myself back in Los Angeles, a place whose biggest assets — according to the city’s most astute cultural appraiser — are “Women, Weed, and Weather.” It is clearly impossible to disagree with this list, but of the three, I have always taken greatest issue with the last item, and this is because I am moody. When I am feeling a certain way — bummed, complacent, happy — I need my ambiance to help contextualize everything, and I’ll actively seek out the exact stimuli to complement a certain headspace. Thus, the ever-sunny, blemish-free sky might start to wear on me if exposed indefinitely (read: I am the ONLY PERSON EVER to be mad about perfect weather).

The second or third time I heard “California” by Mazzy Star, the revered psych-folk veterans from Santa Monica, was when I decided that I was wrong. I was reading one of my favorite music critic’s review of the duo’s new album when it clicked. Mark Richardson described the album’s aesthetic perfectly: “[a] mix of longing, weary resignation, and dusty cracks of sunlight.”

This last description is key. Just because something is a constant doesn’t mean that it cannot or should not be artfully manipulated — you just have to recalibrate perspective and look for the shadows. Seemingly, this is why the accompanying music video focuses heavily on shaded crannies and those twilight moments when the values of the color palette are more inventive and surprising. The fact that the visual denouement of the music video is an overcast sky is perfect.

Kendrick: 1; Matt: 0.

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  1. Anthony says:

    I read that review a bit differently. The “more of the same, but equally good” undertone of the article is valid. I don’t see where he makes any judgement or disapproval on how Mazzy Star’s palette has not expanded significantly during the gap between albums.

    IMHO, the band is making a smart move to reconnect with their core audience. It gives them the option of later adding more layers or aspects to their sound without the abrupt alienation of their loyal fans.