Following the 2015 release of Moon Mirage, nomadic Trans Van Santos frontman Mark Matos retreated to his mom and dad’s kitchen to record this DIY “Dear John” letter to his home state of California. The songs were originally recorded as demos to be sent to the usual suspects in Matos’ rotating ensemble of collaborators. The tunes soon took on a life of their own, making the rounds amongst friends and collaborators, all the while growing into their lo-fi skin, gnawing on the ear, asking for release.

The album explores the darker, outer edges of the California Dream. Songs about crack addiction, friends hauled off to prison, existential concerns, flirtations with success and dances wth dashed hopes are only temporarily counter-weighted by tales of female matadors slumming it in California’s Central Valley and the Whitman-esque hippie ramblings of the title track. It’s a dark record, but one that revels in the darkness, celebrates the shadows. While we await the next Trans Van Santos record and the much anticipated Old Mexico (a Collaboration with Dead Meadow’s Jason Simon), MM has dropped a lo-fi gem in the sand for us with California, the kind of late night “dope-folk” album that fans of Neil Young, Bill Fay, Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska” and Kurt Vile are likely to find time for.

-Paulo Pereira
(New Weird West Digital Archives)