California is a band that’s delightfully self-aware. The band’s bio makes note of its name being almost impossible to Google—“Why California? Because fuck you”—as well as the fact that, while it features members of some high-profile punk bands, they’re just the “other guys” in those acts. Vocalist-guitarist Jason White had played in Billie Joe Armstrong’s side project Pinhead Gunpowder before joining Green Day as a touring guitarist in 1999, eventually becoming an official member in 2012. Unlike White, drummer Adam Pfahler was a founding member of Jawbreaker, the highly influential East Bay punk band that still casts a long shadow even after 20 years of inactivity.
Today, The A.V. Club is streaming all of California’s self-titled debut album below. The record sees White and Pfahler joined by Dustin Clark of Soophie Nun Squad on bass, and the result is a record doesn’t really sound like anything its members have done before.The songs have a punk backbone, but there’s a laid-back surf-rock energy that gives the whole thing a vintage groove. If anything, it makes the band’s name—and that cover image of a surfer gleefully riding a wave—as an apt a descriptor of its sound as any words.
Throughout, California shows that White is just as a strong of a pop songwriter as those other guys he plays with, and Pfahler’s knack for inventive drumming hasn’t waned since Jawbreaker’s dissolution. Not only that, the record sees That Dog’s Rachel Haden duet with White on the lovelorn “To The Airport,” even featuring additional percussion from Beastie Boys longtime drummer Alredo Ortiz. To a certain degree, California feels like a power-pop record a bunch of friends got together to make on a lark. Only, in this case, those friends happen to be in some of the most important punk bands of the past three decades.
Listen to all of California below ahead of its April 22 release. Digital pre-orders are available through Bandcamp and iTunes, and vinyl ehtusiasts can nab a physical copy right here.