Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Far West - The Far West (2011)

As surely as the Far West conjure up some authentic sour mash Americana on this debut, they do so with a subtle originality that lifts them above any usual expectations of the genre. So while banjo and fiddle twang under the high lonesome whine of the pedal steel, and almost every song is devoted to cry-in-yer-PBR loserdom, the entire enterprise is steered away from straight country by the laid-back drive of the band and the vocals of  Lee Briante. Briante possesses a voice that pleasantly echoes John Prine, although he replaces Prine's wise-ass twang with a jaded L.A. drawl that suits the proceedings perfectly. For sonic touchstones, consider the country side of Exile-era Stones or, to get even more specific, imagine "Far Away Eyes" if Gram Parsons had stuck around long enough to kneel on Jagger's chest until he promised to sing the song like he meant it, without the wink of condescension and the fake accent. Overall, the album might suffer slightly from a sameness of tempo, but stand-out tracks like "Bound to Lose", "Bitter, Drunk, & Cold", and "Best Company Misery Ever Had" sound nothing less than timeless. An impressively strong first album that makes me excited to hear how much further west the Far West are gonna go.

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