Band: Sons of the West
Album: Sons of the West
Release Date: August 2, 2011
Free mp3: “Are You Real?” (Be quick! This exclusive link expires December 18.)
For the past month or so — perhaps longer — I’ve taken my act on the road, Clark busing it to the Foster stop in Andersonville on Sunday mornings to get some writing done in one of the neighborhood’s best kept secrets: Urban Orchard.
An establishment striving to be a go-to grocery for local/fresh/organic food items, Urban Orchard actually makes for an excellent venue to work about leisurely in a quiet, stress-free space. They’ve got Metropolis Coffee on tap, and across from the bar, by the front windows facing Clark, is a department of clean tables and comfortable uprights.
For now, Urban Orchard is my favorite place to write. It all happened rather suddenly.
It’s relevant for me to reveal this now because earlier today — to begin and complete my review of Sons of the West’s debut album — I thought it a good idea, based on a suggestion from a lovely friend, to take a peek inside Metropolis’ true home off the Granville stop in Edgewater.
Major, major blunder on my end. The place is charming and neatly made, but busy as fuck. I suppose it might be a fine space to meet a friend or simply grab and go; however, I didn’t see the worth in assertively claiming a chair and pounding away on a laptop amidst heavy chatter. I got anxious and couldn’t concentrate. I was out the door in five.
I’m back at Urban Orchard with a clear mind and, yes, DeVotchKa sweetly fills in some atmosphere. Let’s get going with this, shall we?
I saw Sons of the West for the first (and, so far, only) time at a Martyr’s show in early April. Despite opening for Brooklyn’s The Yes Way and Chicago’s Village that evening, Sons of the West — a trio — played best. Or, at least, I responded to them most.
I remember tightness and intensity from the live show. They put their instruments through hell — Gregg’s drum kit in particular — and gave the North Center venue’s sound system a real challenge, too. These guys are just heavy guitar, heavy drums.
Fortunately, that same attribute — that loudness — translates to record. Their album, self-titled, may be the most boisterous local release I’ve heard this year. It’s what I like most about these guys, really. Even the vocals are strained and drowned out — so as not to distract too much from the storm of noise.
It’s a funny thing, then, that the group doesn’t go lyric-less for at least one track. It’s uncommon, I know, and I think there’s a fear among bands to give it a try, but give “Black Blood” a spin, then see if you agree with me that the tune is just as good — better, maybe? — without words. Of course, in this scenario I’m totally disregarding what Anthony might be breathing into the mic.
I point this out because Sons of the West is real good at rockin’ the blues. So good, in fact, that it would be natural for them to just let their instruments go and be. They seem happiest picking up their noise after calming it down for vocals, anyway.
Then again, I really like what Anthony can do with a mic. His screams on “Are You Real?” pair wonderfully with the rest of the sound. It’s his best tune, and probably Sons of the West’s, too.
One of the album’s only true breathers — an ear break, we’ll call it — comes in about a minute into “Tragedy.” The electric guitar lightens up, and we’re treated to a fleeting moment of sound not steeped so much in force and volume. There’s a tempo increase, too, which was the remedy I needed to help work me through the rest of the disc.
The album draws much of its boldness from its speed. I don’t think, for instance, that it’d be so consuming had its pieces — the songs themselves — not revealed themselves so slowly. It stretched me some — truly — but I’m delighted. It’s a great album.
- Sons of the West, based in Chicago, is: Anthony DeSanto (guitar/vox), Nick Harris (bass/keys/harmonies/harmonica) and Gregg Midon (drums).
- Their album is freely streaming over on Bandcamp. Or, pony up $7 and it’s yours.
- If you happened to miss the link at the tippy top, a exclusive download of “Are You Real?” is available here, courtesy of Chicago Tunes and Sons of the West. Act quick — link goes *poof* on December 18!
- Sons of the West are back at Martyr’s on December 21 to open for Aaron Lee Tasjan, Taurus and Malefactors of Great Wealth. Tickets are $7.