REVIEW: Country Westerns’ Self-Titled Debut is Pure Unabashed Rock


Country Westerns – Country Westerns

Neither country nor western, the Country Westerns are pure unabashed rock. Embracing late-80s/early-90s sonics and lyrics that pull not punches, Country Westerns bring blood, sweat, and tears back to the stage – safe spaces be dammed this is music for fists in the air, hearts on sleeve, and cold beers spilled in exuberant bacchanalia. Country Westerns is drummer Brian Kotzur (Silver Jews, Harmony Korine’s Trash Humpers) and vocalist / songwriter / guitarist Joseph Plunket (The Weight and Atlanta’s Gentleman Jesse). Their self-titled release is out now via Fat Possum Records and features production work by Matt Sweeny and was primarily recorded at Strange Weather Studios, NY.

Early REM and the late-80s Athens’ sound mix with early-90’s alt-country tendencies of Uncle Tupelo and mid-west working man’s rock into an inviting sound – familiar but fresh. This is not nostalgic rock longing to be part of a past scene, but instead a band building on its influences and pushing forward. Their self-titled debut kicks off with the hard hitting “Anytime” over guitar runs reminiscent of Brian Venable’s non sequiturs that define Lucero’s sound almost as much as Ben Nichols vocals. Plunket more howls than sings, “try to pick it up when you’re falling back,…, it’s just the wolves at your door.” He continues, “better take a walk try ’n clear your head, better take a drug try ’n go to bed, better listen up to what I said, at any time,” as he cries out for connection and understanding amidst unwanted advice. “You make it harder on yourself than it has to be, harder on your heart,” is the message on “It’s Not Easy.” “Guest Checks” pulls back on the throttle just a hair and eases into a swampy groove that drips with the humidity of a southern summer night. Early single “Time to Tunnels” sheds some of the distortion and grit for a goodtime highway roller. “Tunnels” almost demands windows down and an open road from the first acoustic guitar strums; by the time the tambourine sneaks into the background it’s already a hair in the wind feel good cooker. “I wish I was a million years old, I wish I never did anything I was told,” Plunket announces as the band embraces the whimsical denouncement of worry and the possibility of an open road with no responsibilities. “TV Light” returns the grit while “Close to Me” keeps the energy high. “Two Characters in Search of a Country Song” closes this collection on a slightly mellower note “two characters in search of a country song, just make believe but so in love.”

Out now via Fat Possum Records, Country Westerns’ debut will scratch your itch for the gritty alt-country missing since bands like Slobberbone broke up, Lucero’s Ben Nichols quit smoking, and the Drive-By-Truckers gave up their three guitar attack. Pick up a copy of Country Westerns today; you won’t be disappointed unless you’re a regular at Bob’s Country Bunker where they’ve got both kinds of music.


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