If ever an album’s artwork looked like how the music sounded, it was this. This album seemed to see the band attempting to take the music in a slightly more commercial direction but resulted in a good collection of memorable songs nonetheless. Some fans may act almost as if this was a departure for the band, but realistically the music throughout is a streamlined and catchy version of the existing Fu Manchu template; buzzing, fuzzed out guitars with retro sounds, a bit of cowbell and Scott Hill’s great lazy-fun vocal and lyrical style.
There is some diversity, such as on the album closer ‘The Wasteoid’ which adds Sabbathy riffing and a Brant Bjork drum solo to the proceedings and also ‘Bultaco’ which features guest vocals from Black Flag’s Keith Morris.
Although the album is pretty solid and indeed pretty similar throughout, the most memorable tracks include ‘Mongoose,’ ‘Squash That Fly’ and the Title Track. Even among Fu Manchu’s incredibly strong back catalogue, these are stand out tracks and go to show what a strong record California Crossing is. It is pretty great that the band are producing songs of this quality seven albums into their career.
Overall; California Crossing is a strong Fu Manchu album and while you may be suspicious of it because of its reputation as an almost “sell out” type of record, ignore this and you’ll find a wonderful “feel-good” Stoner/Desert Rock album that is enjoyable from beginning to end.