The West Coast Pinups - Caution: Swinging Doors
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Caution: Swinging Doors (Hard Eight, 2001)

The West Coast Pinups

Reviewed by Clarissa Sansone

Though its title is reminiscent of cowboys entering a saloon from the dusty range, The West Coast Pinups' album has more to do with the truckdrivers, drunks and women-done-and-doing-wrong that permanently inhabit the bar. This California-based band (as the name implies) cooks up a baker's dozen of originals on their sophomore effort.

The band's sound owes a lot to Bakersfield, from Buck to Gram, with a sonic nod to truckdriving tunes. The guitar solos are down and dirty on the faster numbers, which are just rock-tinged enough to make them un-line-danceable. Although the melodies and lyrics can run to the conventional at times, there's a lot of worthy material here too.

Fronted by energetic vocalist Cella Blue, who pens one tune, the band performs songs by guitarist (and album producer) Joe McGrath, lead guitarist Johnny Smokes and bassist Ben Farkas. The musicianship is sure, with notable piano work by Tommy Eyre and weepy steel guitar by Greg Leisz. Blue can belt when she chooses, or put a vulnerable note in her voice for the cryin-in-your-beer numbers, which are quite pleasing, despite their hopeless tone. (Hard Eight, 1200 Esplanade #102, Redondo Beach, CA 90277)

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