Limbeck hails from Orange County and has a Lookout!-style pop-punk resumé, but beyond that, it doesn't fit neatly into that much-vaunted yet ridiculed scene. The quartet -- frontman Robb MacLean, guitarist Patrick Carrie, bassist Justin Entsminger and drummer Matt Stephens -- has reinvented itself as an alt-country songs-of-the-road outfit with its latest, Hi, Everything's Great, evoking the spirits of the Replacements, early Wilco, and even the king of countrified California rock, Gram Parsons. Recorded with Ed Rose at his Eudora, Kansas, studio, this set of mid-tempo rockers doesn't cover a lot of new musical ground, but the evocative stories of the people and places that fill Limbeck's van are truly compelling. While artistic growth doesn't always have to mean pedal-steel and acoustic guitars, their presence here really lets the songs shine through. MacLean's Americana-verité compositions are equally inspired by smart women ("Julia"), boring drives across Arizona ("Comin' From Tucson") and sleepless nights ("In Ohio on Some Steps"). The passion and maturity this young band evinces on Hi, Everything's Great promise good things to come. Maybe Limbeck will redeem the O.C.
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