Search - Bob Schneider :: Californian

Bob Schneider
Genres: Folk, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
  •  Track Listings (14) - Disc #1


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CD Details

All Artists: Bob Schneider
Title: Californian
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Shockorama
Original Release Date: 1/1/2006
Re-Release Date: 8/8/2006
Genres: Folk, Pop, Rock, Classic Rock
Styles: Singer-Songwriters, Vocal Pop, Roots Rock
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 015707981323

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CD Reviews

A great introduction to Bob Schneider
Glen Engel Cox | Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | 01/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Bob Schneider has been a mainstay of the Austin music scene for over ten years now, and still remains fairly unknown outside of Texas. In fact, at a recent concert in Virginia, it seemed the audience was made up of more Texan expats than locals. Schneider's sound isn't Texan, though--at least not like Stevie Ray Vaughan, ZZ Top, or Lyle Lovett. He doesn't sing with a drawl, and he's as like to say a four-letter epithet in his songs as he is to say m'am. His sound typically runs between a growling hip-hop to straight-ahead rock that used to be the mainstay of 80s rock. That may be what prevents Schneider from breaking through, as he does flirt with a number of genres, some of which are extremely out of vogue. He's also extremely prolific, having fronted both the Ugly Americans and the Scabs as well as releasing several solo albums and at least one duet with Mitch Watkins, so it's a bit tough for new listeners to know exactly where to begin with his catalog. Which makes The Californian a welcome addition to Schneider's oeuvre, because it gives an overview of all his facets and is likely the strongest set of songs he's ever put on a single album.

The CD starts with "Holding in the World," that immediately grounds the listener into Bob's world: a guitar riff that seems the offspring of Foreigner or Bad Company and then Bob's voice comes in, harkening back to Bob Seger's growl or even a young Tom Waits. His voice has matured with the years, a deep baritone that has some remnants of the dangerous sound of Johnny Cash when he still did rockabilly. And when the song hits the sing-a-long chorus, it's almost too infectious--this is the kind of music you find yourself humming for hours and days after hearing. Schneider's a child of the 80s, and like Ben Folds, will often pepper his songs with both cultural references to that time period (such as comic books on songs like "Superpowers"). He also has absorbed a fair amount of hip-hop, which shows up in both the attitude of songs like "Everything I Have Means Nothing to Me Now" or "Mix It Up." "Game Plan" sounds like a cross between Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World as I Know It" as done by a hip-hop artist. And for the modern rock crowd, songs like "Flowerparts" sound like a Coldplay song rescued from an alternative Earth.

According to the liner notes, this album was recorded live in the studio, often on the first take, with only a minimal amount of overdubs. This is similar to previous releases by Schneider like Songs Sung and Played on the Guitar at the Same Time that are often only a step away from demos. However, in this case, the songs are being performed by a road-tested and experienced band who are tight--these songs sound like they were produced, even when they aren't. What this album also captures is the raw power of Schneider live, who can energize a crowd and get them singing along with him. Several of the songs here benefit from choruses or parts that invite crowd participation, including the goofy final song on the album, "The Sons of Ralph," which is like something Tenacious D would have written.

Musical tastes go in cycles, and the kind of music that Schneider is performing--a rougher, hard edge guitar-driven rock--doesn't sit well with American Idol vocalist-driven pop or the do-it-yourself sound of garage bands. If Schneider can sit it out and wait for the cycle to turn, he's situated to break into the mainstream as long as he can keep releasing albums of this quality. I envy those people who will discover him in the future, because they'll have some great music to unearth as they descend into his back catalog."
Pogoing Into The 21st Century With One Of Rock's Most Colorf
Jef Fazekas | Newport Beach, California United States | 09/29/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I can't help but think Bob Schneider would be happy to have us all believe that he's content to remain some kind of indie cult star, well-known to only a hip, in-the-know, select few. If, by chance, Schneider really does believe that, he better rethink said mindset, because with THE CALIFORNIAN, his strongest, most complete, set to date, Schneider is posed to become a bona fide rock star. Full of various styles and grooves that come together to form a whole that is equal parts intelligent, edgy and fun, THE CALIFORNIAN is musical magic. I mean, how often do you come across a disc that features elements as diverse as those of Oingo Boingo, The Kinks, The Wallflowers, Rick Springfield - in his more rockin' moments! - Mitch Ryder, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits, yet remain absolutely true to the artist himself?!? Schneider never gets lost among these stylings and influences; rather, he just uses them to flesh out his already distinct voice. Things kick off with the growling, propulsive "Holding In The World." Picture the Red Hot Chili Peppers backing Tom Waits and you would have a pretty good overview of the cut! Anchored by a lead vocal that seems partially stuck in his throat, Schneider makes it clear that no one is going to tell him what to do...he's going to do it all on his own terms, be it love, his music or life itself. Danny Elfman could have easily written "Game Plan" two decades ago, what with it's frantic edge and quircky vocal. Schneider puts his own spin on this classic "I'll change for you" tale, resulting in a frenetic, fun slice of rock. Another of the disc's high points is "Party At The Neighbors", a rave-up sure to find it's way into a movie or TV show soon. Buoyed by a jammin' backbeat and an energetic lead vocal, Schneider lets us know that a good time was had by all ("We put some hits on the hi-fi/Mixed up some mai tais/For the rest of the night/Everybody got so high"). This is good-time music, meant to make you smile...and move! Anchored by a sultry bassline, "Miss Oblivion" tells the story of a mysterious lover - either human or opium based - that can be both good and bad for you. Toss in a strong, albeit laid-back, lead vocal and great lyrics ("I'm all f**ked up/But it makes a nice disguise"), and you have yet another winner. "Flowerparts" is THE CALIFORNIAN's most delicate track, proving Schneider can handle a lovely ballad with the best of them. Take the hypnotic longing of the Wallflowers at their best, mix it with the hope and resignation of classic Kinks, and you have the musical blueprint for this captivating number. Combine this with Schneider's heartfelt, honest lyrics about appreciating the smaller, more down to earth, things in life ("Don't forget the flower parts/A soft touch and a bleeding heart/A big bow and some empathy/Compassion and sympathy") and you have one of Schneider's best songs to date. "Blauu" is a silly piece of noise, seemingly tossed in for no other reason than to prove Schneider can still be considered "alternative." Not so "Get Up On It", one of the album's most completely realized tracks. Hard-edged, yet melodious, the cut has a propulsive energy that is absolutely infectious, getting under your skin and never letting go! Schneider's vocal is gutsy, while still maintaining a pop vibe, sort of like Rick Springfield at his hardest. This track has radio hit written all over it! Definitely one of the disc's stellar moments! Ditto "Mix It Up", a real toe-tapper. Sort of a cross between the Chili Peppers and Third Eye Blind, with a touch of old school Schneider added in, the arrangement is upbeat and the vocal vibrant. "Mix It Up" is a prime example of how Schneider often proves that the word "pop" isn't a bad all comes down to what's added to the mix! "Superpowers" could easily fit onto a Mitch Ryder album, or even a Springsteen one (in his more upbeat, giddy moments!)....with it's rumbling rhythm section, ringing guitars and exuberant lead vocal and "la la" chorus, there's a hoppin' vibe here that's undeniable! "Everything I Have Means Nothing To Me Now" is a darkly charged rocker, full of biting lyrics that are delivered in a rapid fire lead vocal that's THIS close to a rap....and it works! It's at this point that things kind of falter....the final third of THE CALIFORNIAN just isn't as strong as the first two. "Boombox" is a pseudo speed metal number, featuring mumbled, undecipherable lyrics, while the title cut is a psychotic story/song that ultimately comes across as plodding and pretentious. In fact, the only real winner is the groove-laden rap number "Mudhouse." Schneider is one of the few white guys who, when he raps, doesn't sound like a white guy rapping....there's still that rock element that allows it to retain it's authenticity. Another winner! Things wrap up with the silly, boozy frat-boy sing-a-long, "The Sons Of Ralph, a cut that does nothing to end the disc on a positive note, and one that's certainly below Schneider's considerable talents. However, that minor misstep aside, THE CALIFORNIAN is Bob Schneider's strongest release to date, as well as one of 2006's best, and well worth anyone's time and attention (As with all my reviews, however, I do have to dock the disc half a star for not including the lyrics, which would have REALLY helped during some of Schneider's more gutteral vocal moments!)."
From Start to Finish. . . a Killer Album!
Tommy Boy | Austin, TX | 10/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Bob is the King! The KING! Get this disc, you will dig it. You can really sense the urgency in this CD. Go to Bob's site, check out some of his notes on the Album. If you can make to Austin, TX, spend about 2 weeks going to Bob's shows and you will understand. From Joe Rockhead to Texas Bluegrass Masacre, Bob's the real deal, always pushing boundries, coming up with new sounds, un-corporate, straight ahead Rock and Roll."