West Without – West Without album review



written by
Erin Ginder-Shaw

Erin Ginder-Shaw is a writer from the East Bay who loves scribbling about music and listening to words.

This debut self-titled EP from West Without is not what you might expect when you recall the sounds of Baton Rouge.  In seven tracks you won’t hear an accordion or a fiddle, no steel guitar or upright bass.  That said, you will detect a hint of the swamp in slow, almost waltzy riffs coated with layered, emotive harmonies and careful syncopations.  It’s refreshing.  Florence and The Machine meets The Kinks.

They kick things off with “Give Me Your Heart,” an upbeat single whose light, synthesized rhythm evokes a sort of playful nostalgia.  The sentiment is initiated twenty seconds in with Raine Landry’s raspy, prognostic pronunciation of the word doom, and is backed up with recurring hoo-ooOOOooos as the chorus fades out.  It’s what you expect, and what you want from indie/alternative rock.

Next up, “The Prey” is slower, darker, and pronounced with melodic contour all three vocalists get in on.  I was truly surprised (and delighted) by how they handled what comes next.  Track three, “Bird In a Cage” is a near perfect blend of tracks one and two—the nostalgia is back, only this time it’s met with foreboding, steady guitar and alternating vocals that come together at times like a chant, and at other times like a chamber choir.

Track four!  Something new. “Cold Blood” is a song you can picture yourself swaying to in the front row.  Its lyrics imply something necessary yet sorrowful, and the music backs them up. Not complicated, but satisfying.  With track five, “Go” we’re feeling similarly to the way we felt in track one—excited, perhaps a little smarter and more distinguished now that we’ve breathed in one through four.  Familiar, evocative vocal tone and clear, lively drumming carry this song.

The final two tracks, “Bombs Away” and “Get it Right” neatly wrap up this little EP.  They meet expectations with well-timed harmonious swells, and thoughtful texture.  I felt satiated when it was over.  Satiated and inclined to keep an eye on what comes next for Raine, Derek, Dane, Alex, and Johnny.

I am confident that this is only the beginning for them, and that we’ll all be better off with some West Without in our earbuds.


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