Local Showcase: Westerners
The Lawrence-based quartet, Westerners, have a seemingly inexhaustible amount of energy. Their live shows are whirlwinds of incendiary guitar-riffs and driving rhythms. Once they start their set, Westerners don’t let up–pounding out songs until the venue bursts with their brand of garage rock. And their recordings bottle this frenzy well.
Their self-titled debut EP, released in March, keeps the wooly, frayed-flannel edges of their live sound and condenses it into a short rush of sound. The EP begs to be sung along to. Their Neil Young infused sound blends the sludgier aspects of rock and the fuzzed-over warmth of Neutral Milk Hotel-esque folk. The combination of these elements makes a sound that is heavy and infectious in the best possible ways.
The EP starts with with the jangly tune “Ugly Girls in Pretty Shoes.” The track begins as an arrangement of intricate picking patterns and a chorus of ohs and ahs. This swells into a jumpy riff that blends the early 80s pop influenced drumming and the angst-tinged vocals. The studio version sounds clean and catchy while keeping the same energy of the live version.
The EP continues to swerve and surprise. The second track, “Tetris,” is perhaps my favorite of the EP. It sounds like an alternate reality in which Animal Collective lived for a spell in western Nebraska. There’s a hum to the song that blends the band’s disparate influences. It is, in all senses, a confluence. The track yarns together distorted punches of sound with lyrics that rise and drop through the boiling ire of their instrumentation.
The rest of the EP keeps up the energy of the first half–the same energy that unspools from their dynamic live show. Whether live or recorded, Westerners are a band that should be watched and heard. They’re making some of the most intense music in the Kansas City/Lawrence area right now. They’ve already made waves and will no doubt continue churning out music that starts fast and sticks around.