The name Golden Bear might not give away a lot about how this CD will sound, but the title of "Dear Texas" should. I've gone back and forth on this a number of times now and I don't mean to be philosophical about it but sometimes that's just how music is. The sound of Golden Bear, found within these songs, could either be best described as rock n roll with underlying country influences or country with underlying rock n roll influences. That, to me, really depends upon what day you're listening to it and whether you're one of those glass half empty or glass half full types of people.
Just within the first song, both Bob Seger and Buc-ees get name dropped. This is important because it sets the tone for this album in the way that it feels like just great driving music. There are a few songs out there which come from bands like Golden Earring and Steppenwolf which are just great to listen to on long drives and "Turn The Page" by Bob Seger is right up there with them. Also, if you've ever been to or through Texas for any reason you will know the pure awesomeness that is Buc-ees and that's just another one of those places where you have to stop while driving. People in PA argue about Sheetz or Wawa but in Texas no one argues about Buc-ees being the best.
As much as this has that classic rock n roll vibe to it I can think of more contemporary bands within here as well, such as The Damn Personals and BRMC. There is that country/twang influence which makes me think back to the early 2000's when a lot of bands were going country for some reason and you had artists like Limbeck and The Sad Riders and this would fit in well with them even though it definitely feels less like a gimmick than when everyone back then just began to feel like they were doing it to fit in. As this CD progresses, I also hear (perhaps in the vocals most of all) a bit of Soul Asylum and that's never a bad thing because few artists could paint a better melody.
One of the aspects which I really enjoy about "Dear Texas" as well is that all of the songs tend to have the same pacing even if they don't all seem it. There isn't that one really slow ballad and there isn't really that one faster song, they all just sort of keep at a steady pace which is most perfect for a long drive. In this way, it does remind me of The Wallflowers and even certain Tom Petty songs (which are also great for driving) because you can just relax with the cruise control on and watch the countryside go by.
When I lived in Texas I visited San Antonio and saw a mariachi band set up playing a cover of "Hotel California" by The Eagles (who are also name dropped within these songs) and it just felt like such this perfect representation of what was going on around me at the time. It was one of those times where it took me a minute to place the song and it was just so perfect. I feel like a lot of people who have never been to Texas think of the music coming from it as sounding like Willie Nelson. When I think of music from Texas, my mind always tends to go to Recover first (and then I think about hip hop like Fat Tony)
This never really gets as heavy as the band Recover but I don't feel like it hits upon the traditional side of country music you'd hear from someone like Willie Nelson either. I'm hesitant to call it Americana but it does have that way about it only it seems more specific to Texas, so if there was a way you could think of if Neil Young had spent his time only in Texas and only writing about Texas then this might be the result. And for as much as I feel like this is a great album to put while driving, as many times as I've typed that here, it's also just as great an album to listen to while sitting still.