West – Trailduster


West calls their music death-country, a concept that I can’t even get my mind around. So I’ll refer to it as rural grunge, something that, to me, fits their sound so much better. Regardless of what you call it, this New York City by way of Portland, Ore. trio fronted by brothers Claremont and Wellington Taylor and complimented by drummer Mike Zimberg create music with most definitely a fresh, unique sound.
In case rural grunge doesn’t make immediate sense (or death-country, for that matter), West uses surf bass, trap kit drums, plenty of echo, and thick, gritty, moody vocals to create a sound that’s equal parts restrained grunge and mid-western rock. The lyrics show the band’s dark-tinted desperate sound, as they sing about Las Vegas and Nevada, suicide, and driving on the open road, creating a bleak vision of the lonely mid-west as much in lyrics as in their dark sound.
The opener, “The Way,” is the perfect introduction to West’s unique sound. Echoing bass, warbling guitars, and those deep, gritty vocals shouting out “When you were in fucking Las Vegas, didn’t have a penny to your name, but you were born to give, oh yeah, so you had to find a way,” make this song one of my favorites. There’s almost a chiming echo to the suicide-themed “Where’s Your Rope?” and “Nevada” uses an ultra-slick bass groove to create an almost Morphine-like vibe (the band, not the drug). Wanna hear grunge? Check out the thick, crazy “Halo,” a blistering track complimented by those gritty vocals and weird, warbling effects that fill the background. I love this song.
The band proves they can get melodic and intricate on the nicely flowing but too short “Motor,” and it flows nicely into the more tried and true rock feeling “God and Mary.” Picking up on the mood of the opening track, “Octane Annie” has a very dark, very echoing feel, yet a bit more restrained. And they close with the more mellow “Leave Your World,” which also has some keyboards and a greater sense of melody.
It’s amusing to me that a band called West would have such a rural mid-western feel to them while hailing from New York City, and don’t get me started about bands that use such common words for names that web searches are rendered completely useless. Let me just say that West’s music is dark and overbearing, thick and desperate, gritty and wildly impressive. Music best enjoyed while inebriated, or perhaps while driving through some godforsaken town in Kansas.