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What got into to Eureka California? Just last year we were reviewing their sophomore LP, Crunch, and going off about how much we dig their ability to make power pop excellence with a minimalist line up, fierce guitars and gut pounding drums courtesy of Marie Uhler.

It would appear that with their new LP, Versus, they were simply waiting for the leash to be cut, and oh has it ever. Versus is a fast paced, white knuckle ride into pop punk supremacy. The A-side dominates in tempo. The opening track, “Eureka California’s Night In” sounds most like their previous work with the energy level threatening to blow out the speakers. Without hitting the breaks, “Sign My Name with an X” opens with so much thrash we fear the needle jumping the groove. Jake Ward’s vocals are mixed expertly and somehow do not get drowned out. Ward has that unique quality, being able to find distinction and rise above everything.

One of our favorite tracks is “Realizing Your Actuality.” The song sounds like a mid-90’s Tripping Daisy cut. The lyrics are short but the guitars absolutely dominate. The outro is a submersion into alt-rock paradise.

Luckily the album also allows you to catch your breath. Tracks like “Everybody Had a Hard Year” and “Fear and Loathing in the Classic City” give us Ward solo with an acoustic. While they certainly bring the energy level out of the stratosphere, they frame the LP sides nicely.

By far our favorite track on this stellar LP is “I Will Write Mine Over Potomac.” The lyrics grow deep, the metaphors are more cryptic, and between the soft vocals and guitar sessions everything melds together in full force and there is a moment of pure rock nirvana.

Whatever did happen to Eureka California that made them reach this level, it was an excellent move. Crank it up. Kick the amp. Versus is quite possibly best rock record you will hear all year.

The Vinyl

Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records continues their dedication to releasing top notch LP’s. Pressed on translucent green wax, the LP includes a full color jacket, download card, and lyric sheet. Pick up a copy from your local independent record store or directly from HHBTM Records.