COUNTRY WESTERNS – ” Country Westerns “

Posted: July 14, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Rock ‘n’ roll lifers Sabrina Rush, Joseph Plunket and Brian Kotzur have played with State Champion, Gentleman Jesse and Silver Jews to name a few great bands. Now like Voltron, they have taken their skills to make a big giant rock ‘n’ roll robot and I am here for it.

Big guitars and a ripping rhythm section is like a belt-high fastball on a 3-0 count. From beginning to end, this album delivers the goods. I’ve tried to put a label on them but I always just wind up going with straight up rocking, sort of like a great Reigning Sound album. Plunkett’s vocals are raspy with hints of twang; again belt-high fastball for my tastes.

If you don’t like this album, you don’t like rock ‘n’ roll. This album literally pulled me out of funk and I’m grateful for its existence. It’s Not Easy, Gentle Soul and Two Characters are among my favourites.

Don’t go into Country Westerns’ self-titled debut expecting twangy back-porch music. Calling the group Country Westerns is a misnomer. The three-piece band from Nashville delivers riotous rock ‘n’ roll leaning more towards the Replacements than Dwight Yoakam. Drummer Brian Kotzur (Trash Humpers, Silver Jews) and singer-songwriter-guitarist Joey Plunkett (The Weight, Gentleman Jesse) began collaborating in 2016. Writing and performing music was meant to be an outlet for the two musicians, a method to release pressure, write songs, and hit-up Nashville’s DIY party scene. Shortly thereafter, Sabrina Rush (State Champion) joined as a bassist, although she was inexperienced with the instrument. Despite the blasé beginnings, Country Westerns delivers a musically rousting album that is at once catchy and gritty.

If not listening closely, the fierce musicality can obscure the sensitive and affecting lyrics. “Gentle Soul” is wistful, especially when Plunkett laments, “I don’t want to fight with you anymore.” Whereas the vulnerability is short-lived, the righteous indignation is palpable throughout the track. “Gentle Soul” is as angry as it is sad, an accurate portrayal of heartache. Country Westerns are decidedly self-aware. The band know they are blurring vulnerability and rage as exhibited in “Times to Tunnels”. The lyrics, “It ain’t a boast in the least / It’s just a plea for grace / Full of honesty, this rage and me”, provokes authentic self-consciousness.

On top of the engrossing lyrics, Country Westerns uses the album to showcase their musical alacrity. Kotzur’s drums on “Guest Checks” is rough and shrewd, the ideal counterpoint to Rush’s melodic bass. Plunkett’s guitar accentuates their stability with a rawness that melds into while deflecting Kotzur and Rush. Their musical charisma is extenuated on “It’s on Me” and “Anytime”. Whereas the former is comparatively understated in its rock ‘n’ roll energy, the latter roars.

“I’m Not Ready” off upcoming Country Westerns “S/T” album, out June 26, 2020, on Fat Possum Records.

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