Acetone

York Blvd.
(Vapor Records)

L.A.'s resident band of hypnotists, Acetone, cruises along York Blvd. at a lazy summer day's speed: Although there's nowhere to go and nothing to do, everything's all right as long as they speak softly and carry a big stick (courtesy of guitarist Mark Lightcap). The trio's brand of "country rock" is California high desert at its best -- all dust storm strings, shuffling beats, and arid melancholy. While some might find these dream masters the slowest draw in the West, that doesn't disqualify them from being downright deadly, and York Blvd. makes the case that indolence can be a damn groovy thing. Even if the oasis is in sight, why hurry when you know it's only a mirage?

York Blvd.'s sorcery starts off with a drowsy incantation that ensures "Things Are Gonna Be Alright," coasting down the road at ten miles per hour as it soaks in endless blue sky over a dusty plain. Bassist Richie Lee's wistfully whispering voice, drummer Steve Hadley's cowpoke trot, and Lightcap's fine fretwork support lyrics that yearn for something bigger but remain glued to the ground. Lee's indictment of scenester mentality, "Wonderful World," floats like a cirrus cloud and features a nipping guitar, an affected lead vocal, and a Beach Boys­hopelessly-lost-in-the-desert chorus as it delivers a kiss-off to a too-cool-for-school former friend. The down-home, troubled sound of "Like I Told You" opens the throttle a little, with its highway six-string, slightly sinister vocals, and sneaky beat.

But just when you're ready to file Acetone under Least Likely to Break a Sweat, enter the snarly "It's a Lie." A classic-rock slow creep builds before dropping into a kick-you-in-the-teeth jam worthy of a duel with the James gang. This is dirty-fightin' guitar and strong-backed rhythm, but the brawling is nicely augmented by vocal harmonies that smile like a winsome tough guy you can't help loving.

Calling Acetone listless is like saying the desert all looks the same; if you listen closely to York Blvd., inertia never seemed so active. Like the band's esteemed L.A. forebears the Beach Boys and Gram Parsons, Acetone glides down Sunset Boulevard, casting spells with pocketfuls of sand and leaving behind the hazy memory of a cloudless dream.

 
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