Eureka California at Big Takeover

18 months after their debut LP, Big Cats Can Swim, Athens, GA’s Eureka California have slimmed down to a bassless duo for their second collection of fuzzy, in-the-red songs.

To be clear, Crunch is no White Stripes schtick. Guitarist/vocalist Jake Ward and drummer Marie A. Uhler can actually play their instruments quite well, immediately setting them apart from the overrated defunct Detroit duo. Rather, this Southern pair creates energetic power pop with a slight Guided By Voices flair, particularly on “Twin Cities,” though “There’s No Looking Back” lilts like Iggy Pop‘s “The Passenger,” even when it explodes in speed and volume. “I Bet You Like Julian Cope” comes across as total Ramones worship and “#1 In The State” bares the streetwise tragedy of Johnny Thunders. The Jam-like “This Ain’t No A-Side” is particularly impressive, with Ward single-handedly covering both the biting guitar riff and rolling bassline in a single lick. It’s the sound of a band grown more seasoned by constantly touring, rehearsing and recording, bass players be damned.

Hearing how fast they’ve grown in a year-and-a-half, one can’t help but wonder where Eureka California will be in another year. Miles ahead of now, no doubt. That should be quite the album.