The Larson Brothers are a Long Beach band without much of a digital footprint. The insert with their new EP Royal Desert also doesn’t make it clear who the precise band members are, though Jeff, Greg, and Brad and seem to write many and play on most tracks (on acoustic guitar and bass), with help on drums from Gabe. Dana Stewart, Matt Berg, and Steve Anderson also contribute to the family project. Jeff had a previous EP from 2010 that, while very uneven, included a promising Neil Young-flavored ballad called “Lille Stuga.”
On the new six-track disc, the Young influence is still loud and clear, and it is hit and miss as well. A nice acoustic guitar starts “In the Rain”where Jeff sings about being caught in the rain outdoors, seeing a captivating woman with black hair, dancing in the rain. The tune is okay but lacks a catchy hook; the next tune, “Crack Me a Brew” has the hook but it is the one from “Love is a Rose” – if done with beer-drinking lyrics as a filler track on a Young album like “Comes a Time.” “Big Ida” is much better, as a nylon-string acoustic lick pumps up the rhythm about a big, bad-ass truck from the Larson family’s roofing business; it rocks, has snarling guitar solos, and is by far the best song here. The disc closes with “Thunderbird,” one of those Young-style falsetto country songs about the cold North, trees, and the Klondike. It’s not bad, but like the rest of Royal Desert, the listener has to weed through some weaker material to get to it.