CD Review of Cold in California by Ingram Hill
Recommended if you like
The Fray, Augustana,
the Alternate Routes
Label
Hollywood
Ingram Hill: Cold in California

Reviewed by Mike Farley

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B
ack with more of their trademark pop/rock with a Southern twist, Memphis band Ingram Hill gives us Cold in California, the first release they have recorded for major label Hollywood Records. 2004’s June Picture Show, also on Hollywood, was a re-release of an album Ingram Hill had just recorded when the label found them. Now that the particulars are out of the way, let’s talk about Cold in California, because this is one truly great record. Ingram Hill takes straight ahead pop/rock back to its roots, because it’s easy to cite the likes of the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, and more recently, Hootie & the Blowfish and Better Than Ezra (the latter band’s front man, Kevin Griffin, contributed songwriting credits). Cold in California was, according to the band, both a figurative and literal title, because it was recorded in Los Angeles and they had no idea that it could get so cold there at night; but also because they were Southern boys out of place on the left coast.

The best part about Cold in California is the fact that Hollywood Records did nothing to turn this band into something they are not. Along with producer Oliver Leiber (Paula Abdul, BB Mak, the Corrs), this album is truly representative of Ingram Hill—a guitar-driven rock band that writes simple yet incredibly infectious songs.

“I Hear Goodnight” kicks things off and is the kind of song that could be the focal point of a songwriting clinic, complete with a sugary chorus that lifts into the sky. The same goes for “Four Letter Word,” a scornful song about an ex-girlfriend named Mary (which happens to BE the four letter word). There’s a modest cover of the Plimsouls’ “Million Miles Away” and a slew of mid-tempo songs that have hooks so strong they will punch you in the gut (“She Wants To Be Alone,” “Impossible,” “Troubled Mercy”). But by far the best track is the acoustic tinged “What You Want,” which will remind fans of good pop ballads why they fell in love with music in the first place. It also brings to mind country rock band Restless Heart, and may be the kind of song some country artist will eventually be foaming at the mouth to record.

The music industry needs more no-frills bands like Ingram Hill. There is way too much regurgitated pop/punk, too many regurgitated Creed and Nickelback clones, too many girls who are too young to be stars, and too many rappers bickering for media hype. Cold in California is good music in its purest form, and your ears should put up a big “Welcome” sign when they hear it.

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