Country Westerns – Forgive the City (Fat Possum Records)
Nashville-based trio Country Westerns have channeled The Ramones’ frenetic get-in-break-shit-and-get-out energy on their sophomore effort, cramming in a dozen songs onto their record with each hovering around the two-and-a-half-minute mark.
Forgive the City may be a straight-ahead rock record, but there are no denying the punk influences here. With a voice that’s a cross between Joe Cocker and Lucero’s Ben Nichols, singer/guitarist Joseph Plunket leads the band through a satisfying collection of songs that sound like they could have come out in just about any decade from the 1970s until now. Describing the album, he says “Overall, it’s about partnerships. Though never planned as a concept, writing the last few songs… I started to realize that none dealt with romantic relationships in any direct way. They’re intense songs about friendships, fellow travelers, even business associations—how exciting they can be when things begin and how disappointments, betrayals or shared success can leave just as much a mark on your life as romantic love. In the end that’s all a band is right?”
The band is rounded out by bassist Jordan Jones (formerly of LA glam rockers Easy) and drummer Brian Kotzur (Silver Jews and Crooked Fingers), a fantastically tight rhythm section. From the opening track, the relentlessly catchy “knucklen,” the band quickly sets up the promise that’s paid off throughout the album: catchy, unpretentious rock delivered with efficiency, but plenty of style.
Through a mix of mid-tempo and faster tracks, the band barely gives you time to catch your beath. Though there’s hardly a weak song in the collection (“Money on the Table” does sound a little out of place here), aside from “Knucklen,” the smartly wry “Cussin Christians,” aside from being a remarkable name for a band, is one of the album’s early standout tracks.