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- Posted on Jan 19th 2011 11:00AM by Kenneth Partridge
Daniel Boczarski, Redferns
The Westerns may have made a crisp, audible record, but they haven't gone all sleek and clean on us. Celebrating the LP's release Tuesday night at the Glasslands Gallery in Brooklyn, N.Y., the quintet performed as if it were still in the cellar, polishing its grunge-glam boogie only to the point of intelligibility, not a scrap more.
"We're not playing most of the new stuff, because, honestly, you want to hear the old stuff, right?" singer Cullen Omori asked early on, after the group had opened with 'Girl in Love' and 'Dreams,' both from its self-titled first album.
The difference between old and new felt somewhat arbitrary, as the Westerns treated the 'Dye It Blonde' tunes much as they did their earlier ones. New jam 'All Die Young' started out as a majestic Mott the Hoople hat tip, but by the end, it had devolved into a stumbling sprint through the song's -- and maybe the band's -- thesis statement, repeated over and over, lest anyone forget: "Love is lovely when you are young."
The Westerns love their Mott and T. Rex, but it's only sonically that they wear these influences on their sleeves. The band's look is more Seattle '92 than London '72, and Omori rocked ripped-knee jeans a few frayed threads away from becoming cutoffs. These young dudes couldn't be bothered to tuck in their shirts, let alone apply eyeliner, and for them, glam doesn't represent some us-against-the-world weird-kid revolution. It's just a cool sound -- one that few, if any, of their Beach Boys-loving noise-monger contemporaries have thought to appropriate.
'Weekend,' the show's closer, is filled with Marc Bolan's 'Electric Warrior' guitar tone, but it's no freaky Little Richard fantasia about banging gongs or cosmic dancing. It's about a guy wanting to have a good time with his girlfriend, and if that idea is neither cerebral nor original, it's durable and elemental: the rock 'n' roll concept on which all others are built.
Listen to Smith Westerns' 'Smile'