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Joaquina sounds like the valley they're from: lovely, expansive, hot, dusty, and sometimes depressing. 1999's The Foam and the Mesh is named after the familiar construction of the valley-favored baseball caps that are available at truck stops from Bakersfield to Sacramento.

Listening to this record is like taking a drive down Highway 99, rolling past countryside that is liberally speckled with both farms and strip malls. The album's songs meander from silly drunken rants to sensitive, heartfelt ballads to nostalgic laments. Singer/guitarist Jeff Klindt's voice is raw around the edges and instantly familiar, coating the stripped-down rhythms of bassist Dennis Mitchell and drummer Scott "Soups" Collins's with a layer of gritty valley dust. The lyrics describe valley staples like smudge pots (heating devices used to keep citrus crops from freezing in the winter), runoff dairy water (it's polluted), and El Caminos (if you've never seen one, there's no use trying to explain). Occasional touches of organ, fiddle, and lap steel round out the music.

"Last of the Cut N' Pasters" and "Child Star," both from The Foam and the Mesh, are porch songs: the perfect soundtrack for lazy summer evenings when it's too hot to do anything more than sit around with some good friends and drink something icy cold.