The Calico Brothers: God Left Town EP (Ode)

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The Calico Brothers: Hundred and One
The Calico Brothers: God Left Town EP (Ode)

As with the Traveling Wilburys these "brothers" (three, a cousin and a friend) all share the coincidence of the same surname, "Calico".

And as with the Wilburys they also share a love of clearly rendered country-pop pushed by acoustic guitars, distinctive vocals and memorable melodies.

This six-song EP (I leave it up to you to figure out who some of these Aucklanders are who have worked with Tim Finn, Dave Dobbyn, Bic Runga and others) has any number of other virtues, but Jimmy Calico's voice conjures up a fascinating alternate possibility.

If it had been the post-Double Fantasy John Lennon who had joined George Harrison in the Wilburys and not Roy Orbison, this is what they might have sounded like. Honestly.

From the pure Wilburys' chiming soft pop of the opener Hundred and One (yep, George Harrison slide intact) through the melancholy title track (gentle psychedelic touches by Jeff Lynne Wilbury) and Beatles-style country-rock (Poor Little Girl) to the Lennonesque piano ballad Blown Up Heart at the end, this is a mighty fine, effortlessly referenced collection which, if it had come out at the start of summer, would have been all over my barbecue season.

Really nice stuff, even if it does have a slightly disconcerting deja-vu quality.

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