Limbeck, I am sorry it took this long to get around to your album. They say that some things are well worth the wait, and judging by how long this album has been sitting in one of the six piles of advanced albums and promo copies taking up precious real estate near my computer screen, I truly believe Limbeck will put a grin on my face from start to finish. The band is from Southern California, but listening to their earlier efforts, there is plenty of Southern in the music and very little of the sunny Pacific state. The fact that they have Ed Ackerson and Jayhawks lead singer and crucial Golden Smog member Gary Louris producing the album only reinforces the idea you will be listening to a great roots rock/alt-country record. And hell, I’m dead on the money from the get-go!
After putting the disc in, you’re greeted by Limbeck with a punchy “People Don’t Change” that has the same pop-rock and roots-rock feeling of something Steve Earle perfected with The Dukes circa Exit O. Lead singer Robb MacLean’s voice is just rough enough around the edges that it perfectly melds with the spit polish the arrangement gets. MacLean and fellow guitarist Patrick Carrie beef the tune up with some great jangle-riddled guitars. Just as pleasing is the rhythm section, bringing to mind an early Slobberbone. And while it clocks in at just over three minutes, it seems quite filling for its duration.
“Long Way To Go” is an apt moniker for the second of 14 songs on the album, but loses absolutely no energy or intensity from the first tune, resembling more of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers with its airtight yet bouncy feeling. “Everyone’s in the Parking Lot” takes the album down a peg or two with its lighter, singer-songwriter vibe. Not to worry though, the tune still works in the vein of something Jeff Tweedy might do with the next Golden Smog album, complete with a driving mandolin. The only problem is at some points you think they’re racing through it a bit too rashly.
You might be thinking I’m sucking up for taking so long to get around to this album, but I’m not. No sir or madam! “Making the Rounds” is just another adorable little jewel that glides along with the first hint of California with the soft, sweet harmonies in all the right places. And they take it down again with the cozy, folksy “Sin City”, which speaks about life on the road and the various parts and nuances of Vegas. Limbeck are six for six by this point, especially after another tame and slightly safe roots pop nugget entitled “Usually Deluded”, which could have fallen off of Summerteeth. After a tender “Names For Dogs”, the group raves things up a bit with a hint of garage-meets-boogie rock on “Watchin’ the Moon Rise Over Town”, the type of song any roadhouse band worth its salt should be able to muster up. However, they truly nail the Gin Blossoms-like beauty “Home (Is Where the Van Is)”, which has subtle Keith Richards-esque riffs and an inviting toe-tapping tempo, thanks to drummer Matt Stephens.
The greatest asset Limbeck has is its ability to play both sides of the pop/alt-country gamut without breaking a sweat or sounding as if they’re in unknown territory. A great example of this is how they meld the two on “To Hell With Having Fun”, a hand-clap-inducing song that is quite fun despite its title. Even this is upstaged, though, by the ballad “I Saw You Laughing”, which that you’ll find yourself repeating time and time again. The only regret I have is not getting to this album sooner.
"PopMatters (est. 1999) is a respected source for smart long-form reading on a wide range of topics in culture. PopMatters serves as…READ the article