the far west…american legion twang
My old friend Phil Fox (the pride of Cleveland, a great chef and roller derby aficionado) has always had pretty damn good ears. A few months ago he asked if I had checked out The Far West yet and passed on a link to their website. I was in a rush, so I listened to a few tracks, liked what I heard, and decided to come back when I had more time. Which I never did. A few more months go by and Phil sends me a note asking if I want a copy of their new CD and I say sure. He sends it right out and I throw it on the pile. And there it sat until a week or two ago when I finally uploaded the tunes and got a chance to really give it a whirl. Hot damn…I love me a little of that California bar band steel thing they got cookin’.
For those of you who live east and north of Southern California, trust me when I tell you that there is a thriving scene of…oh I hate to use this word…Americana music and venues. And its big enough to cast its net over many styles and points of reference, from your Bakersfield sound to old time folk, from rockabilly to indie artists who are still chasing those sixties Laurel and Topanga Canyon vibes. Now I should modify or at least define what I call “thriving” in this modern day and age before you musician types come running out here…you probably need to keep your day jobs. But there sure are enough places in a few hundred mile vicinity to keep you playing just about every weekend to an audience of city slicksters and hipsters and your basic So-Cal suburban cowboys.
So this band…Lee Briante, Robert Black, Erik Kristiansen and Tony Sanborn…have been playing together since early 2010. Each came from other places and groups. Texas, the Hudson Valley of New York, a local Eagle Rock guy (theres a great pizza joint there I used to go for crazy thin crust pies) and I think the steel player might be from Sweden, or not. Guess I could find out for you if I wanted, but I’m feeling a bit tired today. The thing is, these guys put together a bunch of original songs and not quite a year ago they travelled down south close to where I’m at, and proceeded to make a record at the American Legion Post #416 in Escondido. They did it in three days and it’s a boffo blast of twang, drinking songs and music to make you want to head out on the dance floor. Or you can just sit at the stick and cry into your beer. Either works.
When it comes to me writing about records or doing a straight ahead review, I think I do my best by just stealing what other people write. Saves time, and they usually just say it better than me anyway, so what the hell.
A blogger named Katie Darby writes:
The first time I put The Far West in the CD player, I immediately looked at my husband and said, “Whiskeytown.”
Some site called the AltCountryForum from (I’m guessing here) Sweden wrote:
Het genre grijpt wel terug naar de authentieke sfeer van de grondleggers van de countrymuziek. Een combinatie van melancholische en opzwepende ritmes zijn terug te vinden op het naamloze schijfje van The Far West uit Los Angeles.
The Hipsters Guide to Road Tripping has this to say:
The Far West is a band that nearly defines “Americana” to a t. First you have a singer with just enough drawl to make your heart ache complete with sliding steel guitar with deep bass and beats. Others have compared the band to “Waylon’s band jamming with Wilco,” a comparison couldn’t be more spot on.
And from No, Your Product:
The production stays out of the way, giving the music a timeless quality – exactly as it should be for the classic country feel of songs with titles like “Tears On The Pillowcase,” “A Town Called Lonesome,” “Bitter Drunk And Cold,” and “The Best Company Misery Ever Had.” Singer Lee Briante sounds a few drinks in, with a pleasant, slurry delivery. The pace generally doesn’t stray too far from a slow dance, but songs include honky tonk and Tex-Mex flavors, and the instrumentation includes just the right doses of accordion, fiddle, banjo – and lots of rolling piano.
Man…I dig this cut and paste review thing. This could be a new series for me…”the best of what other bloggers write when I’m too tired and lazy to think for myself.” But for what its worth, as if I actually know what I’m talking about when it comes to critical musical journalism, I’m simpatico with what these other folks have said and its nice to know that my main man Phil Fox still has those great ears of his. You can get this puppy on Amazon or iTunes.
Couple of things before I go: CLICK HERE to hear some tunes. And CLICK HERE to watch a bunch of live videos. And finally, for a few minutes of joy and pleasure, here’s a pretty cool video to watch that I think is worth your time to check out.