It's rather galling to us Northern Californians that the lower portion of the state produced so many praiseworthy albums last year, among them Rilo Kiley's The Execution of All Things, Queens of the Stone Age's Songs for the Deaf, and Irving's Good Morning Beautiful. The latter release smarts most of all, because three members of Irving were Bay Area natives before heading south in 1997.

But geographic bitterness aside, Good Morning Beautiful is a stunning first outing — a warm blanket of '60s-minded pop stitched together by jangly acoustic guitars and exuberant shouts. One standout is “L-O-V-E,” an exercise in bouncy organ and liquid guitar that features rough, randy vocals à la early John Lennon. “Turn of the Century” is equally outstanding, fusing sunshine-y energy and swaying melodies with enthusiastic “ba ba ba” vocals and warmly conversational lyrics like “And then she showed me her favorite thing/ A wooden box with her mother's ring/ And she said this wasn't something that she/ Showed just anyone.”

Good Morning Beautiful offers plenty of mellow numbers as well, including “Crumbling Mountain Tops,” a ballad with shy, sad vocal delivery, and the dreamily midtempo “Did I Ever Tell You I'm in Love With Your Girlfriend.”

While remnants of the Beatles and the Zombies permeate just about every song on this album, Irving holds it own by being astoundingly versatile. With just one album under its belt, this act stands poised to challenge the Beachwood Sparks for the title of best neo-psychedelic band in the state.


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