On his heartfelt new album Bittersweet, Victor Krummenacher tells it like it is, like it should be and like it never was. In his third (and so far best) solo album, co-founder of Camper Van Beethoven and Monks of Doom, Victor Krummenacher, takes the stage with his best friends around him and his heart on his sleeve. This labor of loves lost and found finds Krummenacher in fine mettle, with eleven tales of affairs of the heart that range from country-inflected ballads so sweet they’ll linger on your tongue like grandma’s cherry cobbler, to intense folk-rock and pop tunes that frame Krummenacher’s strong songwriting and authoritative singing with an engaging sound that is rich and polished but never precious.
Ably assisting him in creating this fine-tuned sound is Chris Xefos, co-producer and ex-King Missile bassist who manned the control booth during the year-long recording sessions that became Bittersweet. Xefos adds his own passionate voice, lyrical bass and fine guitar and keyboard work to Krummenacherís superb acoustic, electric, baritone and bass guitar stylings expanding the texture and varying the tone with a sympathetic touch borne of their years on the road and in the studio. Folks who like their music a little on the edgy side will find Xefos’ production a thing of subtlety and finesse, cleverly mixing sitars, Optigans and other oddments in and around the obligatory guitar picking and such. Fans of Graham Parsons, Sparklehorse and Richard Thompson and Buckner alike will treasure the mix of tradition and experimentation that defines Bittersweet.
The guest list on Bittersweet reads like a who’s-who of the West Coast’s most interesting musicians: Dave Alvin (The Blasters, X, The Knitters), plays lead guitar on the chiming title track, and Carrie Akre (Goodness/The Rockfords) contributes her powerpop vocals; Carla Bozulich (Geraldine Fibbers/Scarnella) shares a gorgeous, tender waltz duet with Krummenacher on "Maybe A True Love;" Alison Faith Levy (Loud Family), lends her excellent piano and strong vocals to several tracks, most notably "Blind" and the atmospheric pyrotechnics of "Rocket Fuel." Bruce Kaphan (American Music Club) contributes top-notch pedal steel throughout, and also mixed the album. Doug Hilsinger (Waycross, Bomb) lends a hand with guitar and pedal steel, Dave Immerglück (Counting Crows) plays electric sitar, and Steve Perrone (Planet Seven) plays a fine 12-string guitar. LD Beghtol (Flare/The Magnetic Fields) sings back up. And rounding out the hoe-down is long-time collaborator, Jonathan Segel, also an alumni of Camper Van Beethoven, who turns up the heat with his fiddle and harmonium.
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