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Tom Tikka & The Missing Hubcaps and The Star Prairie Project - California Smile (One Media iP Ltd)

8 March 2024

It is always lovely when an artist you have written about and really enjoyed finds their way back under your pen. It’s like catching up with an old sonic friend. But when you see two bands whose music you have enjoyed collaborating, it’s like being invited to a musical reunion. So, to find The Star Prairie Project teaming up with Tom Tikka & The Missing Hubcaps for a fantastic new single, “California Smile,” is a veritable party come knocking.

The result is a lush slice of Americana, slightly country-fied (country-fried?) rock, and pop-infused roots—one of those sounds that is less about specific genre and more reminiscent of the sound of a something unconstrained by such concerns going about its business. I think there are times when you go beyond the boring, day-to-day labels that people seem so reluctant to move away from and just consider music in more holistic terms. And, when considered in those broader terms, this just feels like a future classic.

There is a richness to the song, a wide-screen, cinematic feel, one deftly woven of guitar motifs and licks, cool riffs and infectious hooks and, when added to the vocals you have a melodic vehicle that dances lightly over the beat and bass which underpins the song. And this engine room duo are found doing exactly what they should be doing: working quietly away in the background to steer and structure the song.

That is what happens when you get two stalwarts of the game sharing sonic space and creative ideas. It brings a wry smile to my face that in today’s music realms, particularly that pop place, we hear of songs being penned by teams of a dozen writers and producers and strategists and stylists and minions and flunkies and coffee-fetchers, and even then, the result is underwhelming at best. Put the right two songwriters together, and you get something so satisfying that you feel as if you have been listening to it all your life. And “California Smile” is so well-wrought that you know that it will become a permanent feature of the musical landscape.