• Bryon Harris

Dustin McKaime - "California Noise"

Review By Aaron Cloutier


Singer-songwriter Dustin McKamie - delivers an intense and heartfelt performance on "California Noise," a diverse rock tune that takes unexpected and pleasantly surprising musical departures.


Upon first listen, I immediately detected stacks of bright banjo rolls and mandolin upon rich acoustic guitar with precise yet supportive drumming. Nothing too busy. Just a solid, steady groove with some excellent hi-hat work. The vocals seem not as "out in front" and blend with the arrangement rather than completely taking the spotlight. The entirety of the verses screams hip, bluegrass-infused folk that gave me the idea that the song would maintain a mellow energy throughout.


Oh, how wrong I was…


The choruses explode with a massively driving rhythm section complete with full-on rock drumming, thunderous bass lines, and dirty guitars, including lead overdubs.


The vocals return front and center and immediately command attention. Full of grit and conviction, McKamie reflects on how we as a people can get distracted from what's essential in life.


He aims specifically at his native Los Angeles, where he observes that so many are caught up in the rat race that they fall out of touch with themselves and their relationships.


The overall message is to be mindful and appreciate those around you ultimately. Keep your eyes off your phone, and be a person. Here here!


These themes, in my opinion, are best conveyed in lyrics such as:


"I take one look at you and I realize that's a face I could never give up. I know I was wrong. To leave you all alone like that darlin'. Emotionally gone."

In collaboration with producer Chance McCoy (Lumineers, Old Crow Medicine Show, Willy Nelson), "California Noise" is incredibly well recorded and mixed. Full of energy, clarity, and punch when it calls for it. That all said, the dynamics are well intact throughout. They don't over-compress the sound, and you hear each instrument beautifully.


In short, "California Noise" is an inspiring rumination on the hustle and bustle of city life and the struggle to remain true to oneself and loved ones in pursuit of one's goals. Methinks you'll dig it. Come for the lush instrumentation and passionate performances; stay for the story.

About Dustin McKaime


Originating from the midwest, Dustin McKamie is an American singer/songwriter who has made a living as an artist in the Los Angeles area. Most notably, Dustin's visual effects artistry can be seen on hit TV shows like HBO's Game of Thrones, Westworld, and AMC's The Walking Dead (to name a few). When he's not busy making dragons fly and killing zombies, he is writing and recording music.


#DustinMcKaime #CaliforniaNoise