California Wives — Art History

Band: California Wives
Album: Art History
Release Date: September 4, 2012

When I listen to “The New Process,” I imagine it anchoring the soundtrack to a remake of Planes, Trains and Automobiles attempting to update the Steve Martin/John Candy story for a new audience, but still remaining true to the film’s requisite ’80s flavor.

As you might know, the movie’s final scene has Steve and John, heavy trunk in tow, walking in step to a Blue Room cover of “Every Time You Go Away,” one of the more renowned power ballads of the decade. “The New Process” feels like a review of that cover in particular, ’80s music in general. I’m charmed by the big drums, the merry keys and the dominate electric guitar that sweeps in at about 2:30.

“The New Process,” though sitting in the penultimate slot on Art History, is happily surrounded by the best material on the LP. In time I discovered I was gravitating towards everything after an abridged “Photolights” — a lengthier version led out California Wives‘ Affair EP — and so I hastily makeshifted a five-track playlist (“Purple”/”Better Home”/”Twenty Three”/”The New Process”/”Light Year”) and looped it, exclusively.

Though there’s nothing unusual about favoring an album half, I think it unorthodox to recommend a chunk of LP and not the whole thing. But so be it. I distinctly prefer the five tracks following “Photolights” over the five preceding it.

The “Purple”/”Better Home”/”Twenty Three”/”The New Process”/”Light Year” string is consistently curious. Exuberant and challenging. True builds from Affair. Save for “The Fisher King,” Art History’s early tracks seem distant from what California Wives can do. Too familiar and easy.

Your best bet, I’d say, is to maybe do as I did by beginning at Art History’s end and working your way back. I’ve found it’s best experienced when you exhibit a little favoritism.

The standouts:

“The New Process”

“Better Home”


  • The Chicago-based California Wives is Joe O’Connor (drums), Jayson Kramer  (vocals, guitar, keys), Dan Zima (vocals, guitar, bass) and Graham Masell (guitar, vocals). | Facebook
  • Art History’s record release will be at Lincoln Hall on Wednesday. Support: Santah, Deserters. Ten bucks. | Tickets

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About Eric

Hello there. Email your things to chicagotunes[at]gmail[dot]com.
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One Response to California Wives — Art History

  1. Tony Hymes says:

    Awesome music! How have I never heard of California Wives before? I added their tracks to my whyd stream.

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