Cross Canadian Ragweed - Mission California
(Oct 2007) For those who thought that with the release of their 2005 album, Garage, had the boys of Cross Canadian Ragweed at the top of their game, they now have another project to create much debate with the throngs of Ragweed fans. The latest release, Mission California, is a searing mix of lyrics, soul, and kickin’ rock ‘n’roll that come together to make the record a true blend of raw, authentic Cross Canadian Ragweed, that is by far the band’s best effort yet.
Front man and songwriter Cody Canada says of the record, “I think it’s the most personal album we’ve ever recorded.... A lot of the songs I write are about what’s going on around me and not about myself; this one I had some things happening within my family that made me kind of step back and look at what’s going on in my life and write about it.”
The band teamed up with producer and long-time friend, Mike McClure for twenty-five days in Strait Studios in Santee California to cut the fourteen tracks that made it onto the album. For the first time, the band had a chance to take a break from the road and really focus on making the record what they wanted it to be.
“We never really had time to do studio stuff, 'cause we were always worried about getting back on the road,” says Canada. “It was us sitting back and really listening for once and really harnessing it on a studio record.” The result is an amazing fourteen tracks that will blow even the most seasoned Ragweed fan away.
Kicking things off is an edgy tune called "Record Exec" about a co-producer that started out in the studio with the band and left after two days telling them they had it under control. After a couple weeks, they sent him "This Time Around" and he sent a version of the song back that had everything missing but Canada’s vocals and pretty much sucked. The song is about the guys telling him that it’s a no go and their determination to do what they do. It’s a rockin’ tune with bad ass guitars and a “go to hell” attitude that earns it the number one slot on the record. Following suit is "Walls to Climb" a song about being stabbed in the back, and "Deal," of which Canada says “there’s really no deep-seated meaning behind it; it’s just one of those shit-or-get-off-the-pot kind of songs,” but both of which make you want to wreak havoc on anyone who’s ever done you wrong.
My favorite on the album is "Dead Man." Chilling lyrics and an outlaw acoustic guitar tell the story of a woman who’s crossed the line for the last time. Canada says of writing the song, “there’s only so much a man can take.”
The most sobering on the record, "Lawrence,"
was written for a nameless one- year-old boy who sat in a stroller on a cold December sidewalk with his family singing along while they sat and sang for spare cash. Long-time friend LeeAnn Womack lends back-up vocals to make this song a perfect blend of harmony and pain, and although I’ve listened to the record about ten times now, is still bringing me to the brink of tears. "Cry Lonely," a Chris Knight song, and "Soul Agent," bassist Jeremy Plato’s debut on lead vocals, are the other two reflective songs on the record.
Canada says of "Cry Lonely," “I wish I’d written it,” and by the way they play it, you’d think he had. "Soul Agent" written by Scott Evans is an, if you will, extremely “soulful” reflection of the lives that people sometimes lead, and leaves you thinking that Plato, with his clear and piercing voice has been singing lead for years. It’s a brilliant song.
"Oklahoma" is a track the band has been playing live during the 2007 summer shows, during some of those shows some may possibly have even been lucky enough to see good friend and co-writer Stoney LaRue lend his vocals. The Okie Indies, Woody Guthrie and the 1982 oil derricks make an appearance to tell a little of the history of Oklahoma.
"I Believe You," a Todd Snider song, is already getting a lot of radio time. It is a perfect interpretation of believing in yourself and believing in “letting people do what people do,” and letting life take the course its gonna take. Of this song making it onto the record, Canada says “It’s just an old Todd Snider song we’ve been playing since ‘96.... We felt like we needed to record it since we’ve been playing it for so long.”
In "The Years" the characteristic Ragweed harmonica returns in a song that is pure Cody Canada. Written as a kind of autobiography of the life of a kid growing up in Texas and Oklahoma, Canada tells the tale of his childhood, saying that “this is probably the most personal song I’ve ever written.... 100% of this song is true.”
Fans will be glad to see a long-lost friend from the Carney album return in "Jenny." We’ve all been singing along to this one since 1998, and it is every bit as good in it’s age as it was on its debut record. "NYCG" musically will make you think of "Fighting For." It was written by Canada, McClure, and Anthony Aquino and is a rendition of a hooker in New York City. Canada says it is “supposed to have a Tom Petty feel,” and then adds “We have folk songs and hard-core rock songs, and now we have a pop song.”
"Right Path" is the bonus track on the record and is a personal reflection of coming out of the dark and dealing with shit that’s bringing you down, then getting on the right track. It’s acoustic, simple and inspirational - and perfectly stated.
Mission California hit the racks on October 2, 2007, and new and old fans alike should go out and add it to their collection. Whether a Ragweed fan for the 13 years of the band, or if this is a first experience with them, they are sure not to be disappointed. With Grady Cross delivering unparalleled talent in the rhythm electric and acoustic guitar and baritone, Jeremy Plato kickin’ it on the bass, harmony, and vocals, Randy Ragsdale holding the band together with his drums, and Canada giving us another incredible musical experience with lead guitar and vocals, the boys have done it again.
Rock on guys.
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