The New Westerns The New Westerns (Radiofree Music)
By Martin Cizmar
Not too many bands morph from cover band to successful original act – especially when they start out playing covers of Ryan freakin’ Adams – but that’s just what the subject of this week’s You Asked For It, Phoenix's The New Westerns, have done.
Formed in spring 2007, they started out doing covers, before recording their self-titled alt-country EP earlier this year. To be fair, they weren’t always slumming it with the Heartbreaker – their MySpace says they also did some Waylon for the resort crowds in Phoenix and Scottsdale – but I’m immediately suspicious of anyone who’s overly enamored if Adams. On The New Westerns, they’re not nearly as bad as Adams or as good as Waylon.
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The Westerns – they do that annoying thing where they have all have the last name Western, which was cool when the Ramones did it, and OK when the Donnas did it, but is otherwise endlessly annoying to me – have a decent sound, as evidenced by the first song, “The Curse of Neglect.” The music is good, with some nice mournful steel guitars and a jittery little rhythm, but the vocals need work. I’m not a huge fan of Danny Western’s voice throughout the record, but here it’s at it's worst, mixed loud, hard and clear, as he sings some pretty decent lyrics (“I come from a long line of mad sons of bitches, the ones who aren’t afraid to come within inches”). The vocals get much, much better on “Your Black Heart,” my favorite song on the record, when Danny comes in twangy after a woeful little melodica (cross between a harmonica and an accordion) opening.
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The EP is also plagued with occasionally self-indulgent guitar work, the most glaring example midway through the second song, “Railroad Gal,” but mostly the sound works, though it’s obviously still maturing. The New Westerns is a pretty down tempo record – the first 1:05 of “So Long Tennessee” is actually silent (yawn) – but it’s got a nice flavor, and I’d love to hear what this band can do rocking out a little, with Danny’s twang in full effect.
If you’re a musician from the Phoenix metro area and would like to submit a CD for review, please send it in an envelope marked “YAFI” to:
Martin Cizmar You Asked For It c/o Phoenix New Times 1201 E. Jefferson Street Phoenix , AZ 85032