The Mamas And The Papa’s hit “California Dreamin'” remains one of the signature sonic offerings from the mid-1960s folk-rock scene percolating around Los Angeles’ Laurel Canyon. It’s been covered by a wide range of different artists throughout the decades, including R.E.M., The Beach Boys, Wilson Phillips, and Wes Montgomery to name a few, but this latest rendition from indie rock stalwart Japanese Breakfast, delivered for for SiriusXMU, needs to be heard to be believed.
Opening with a sparse arrangement of electric keyboard and synth melodies, Michelle Zauner enters the fray with a reverb-drenched delivery of the song’s iconic opening verse: “All the leaves are brown / And the sky is grey.” About a minute in, just after the end of the first chorus, the mood shifts dramatically with a beat drop, some savage trap drums, and a jangly guitar fill. The best part however, and maybe what gives it the edge over the original, is the savage guitar solo that fills the void where once existed a mournful flute part.
It takes a unique kind of artist to breathe fresh life into a classic as staid as “California Dreamin'” but clearly Zauner rose to the occasion. Check out her spin on the ’60s hit in the video above and compare it to the original below.