Fu Manchu - "California Crossing"
(Mammoth Records 2002, 2061655152)
From Aural Innovations #20 (July 2002)
I admit, I'm not a hardcore Fu Manchu fan. I've only gotten into them recently, and King of the Road is the only other album I've heard from them. That being said, California Crossing has been one of my primo summer listening albums this year, especially when out driving in the car. Whether or not it appeals to fans of Fu Manchu's earlier, sludgier sound doesn't really matter to me, honestly, because this is a great, kick ass album full of rocking good tunes.
Continuing their quest for the perfect riff up and down the highways and beaches of California, Fu Manchu gives us a collection of truly inspired, hook-laden rockers that may (I hear some of their older fans shuddering) even finally get them a little airplay. Not that they've sacrificed their true intent for commercialism. The riffs are still plenty and still heavy, and there's always a hint of the psychedelic about the music, but the sound is cleaner, with Scott Hill's vocals higher in the mix, and the song writing is more focussed and stronger than ever.
From the cosmic lyrics of Separate Kingdom, the album's first single, that fit perfectly with the tune's core driving riff, spaced out guitar feedback, and breezy chorus; to the Low Rider-like Latin rhythm and groovy vocal effects of Mongoose; to the stomping, Sabbath inspired instrumental The Wasteoid, every song on California Crossing is a solid winner. Pop it in your car stereo and go cruising-if you don't already live in California, you will smell the salty ocean breeze, the coconut oil on bronzing bodies at the beach, and the exhaust fumes of the Chevy El Camino on the cover. Rock on!
For more information you can visit the Fu Manchu web site at: http://www.fu-manchu.com/.
Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald