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Happiness in Hell
Artist: X-Levitation Cult
Joie Calio is best known for his work in the vastly under appreciated California rock trio Dada. X-Levitation Cult is a side project that allows his vocals to take center stage, not to mention some interesting (and occasionally offbeat) lyrics that depict living in LA, emotional turmoil, and a tongue in cheek look at relationships and pain. The title track longs for a chance to leave the Earth and start over, giving up trying to understand people or the ills they inflict upon one another. "Habit Forming" is a love song about a new (?) love. Depression sets in, though, on "Breaking My Rhymes in the Rain," which features a couplet that only those who have been depressed can feel intensely: "I've been trying to break down for years/It only got my fat and drunk on cheap beer." "Morning Sickness" will get stuck in the listener's head, and it is deceptively titled. "All the Days" stands out both musically and vocally, while "Stupid Songs About Love" details the differences in taste a couple may have, while somehow also recalling the strained partnership between John Lennon and Paul McCartney. "She's Lost It" is a social commentary on the lifestyles of the rich and vapid. While it doesn't mention Britney or Paris by name, it could sum their last few years up very nicely in less than four minutes (which may be all they really deserve, when you think about it). Happiness in Hell? Despite an attitude that varies between momentary joy and resignation, Calio seems more determined to pursue a higher calling, even if he isn't quite sure what that may be. A great disc sure to be criminally ignored by the masses.
Brian A. Smith