Jeff Moody

Smith Westerns and the (merely) OK Corral

By - Jan 22nd, 2011 04:00 am
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Somehow, through the miracle that is the information superhighway, I must have indirectly and unknowingly absorbed enough of the digital hype generated over Chicago’s Smith Westerns that I built up an expectation level for in their sophomore elpee named Dye It Blonde.

That’s all over now though.

Dye It Blonde, it ain’t bad, but it ain’t all that great either. The band’s strongest element is Max Kakacek, who peels off squealing Clapton-Harrison circa 1970 guitar solos convincingly at some point on every track. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but when you go back to Smith Westerns 2009 debut and give Girl In Love a spin, (which could pass as a Marc Bolan Blue Thumb recording unearthed in a dusty warehouse by some nameless music archivist, honest-to-Christ) you gotta ask out loud, “Guitar Hero, what hath thou wrought?”

Influence is one thing; the wholesale lifting of sound is another.

To be fair, everyone knows this bizzness of aping one’s influences is nothing new, and these guys in Smith Westerns, they are really young and are probably (hopefully) still in their formative stage. They aren’t wrestling with any cosmic complexities yet, so Dye It Blonde ends up being a fluffy pop thing of little consequence, a collection of songs about girls and late nights and teen dreams. They’d go great with scenes from a Sofia Coppola-directed light romantic comedy where the young attractive couple is framed in a dozen or so shots filmed in the most picturesque locations in Big City, USA, because then there’d be something happening that could prime the listener’s imagination. The songs on this elpee are too stubbornly inert to do that on their own. Maybe next time.

Categories: Stripwax

0 thoughts on “Stripwax: Smith Westerns and the (merely) OK Corral”

  1. Anonymous says:

    No way, this album is superb. We can obviously agree that Kakacek’s presence in this album floats somewhere on the Clapton Sea, but to say, “Guitar Hero, what hath thou wrought,” is a bit of stretch. Sonically, this album is huge; it’s a wall of a sound that is repeatedly torn down and built up by Omori’s wailing and Kakacek’s bulldozer of a guitar. Chirs Coady (TV On The Radio, Beach House) produced this album to magnificent levels. They’re manipulation of the once-cheesy–albeit catchy–glam scene excels. Emanating the oft-tender lyricism and sound of Big Star (“Still New”), to the 70’s glam-scene (“End of The Night”), “Dye It Blonde” shines like sequined dress in sunlight. It’s no where near perfect, but it’s a helluva lot better than “OK”.

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