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Album Review: “Soft Will” by Smith Westerns

June 29, 2013


     It seems now that every week a new reverb-drenched indie band comes out. Just as you think you’ve mastered the catalogue of [Insert band name that includes a name of a place and a verb here], Pitchfork or whatever is promoting the sublime musical catalogue of [Insert band named after an animal here]. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the flood of new indie bands pouring forth from the internet, and it’s tempting to simply shut them out and go back to listening to [band you listened to in high school who wouldn’t be caught dead wearing cardigan sweaters]. However, there are good indie bands putting out quality music out there. One of those is Smith Westerns.

The Chicago based-band began as a three-piece garage band when Max Kakacek, and brothers Cullen Omori and Cameron Omori started to jam together while attending Northside College Preparatory School. Unlike millions of teenage garage bands, their dream ended up becoming reality, and they released their latest record, Soft Will on Mom + Pop records. The album is a dreamlike kaleidoscope of catchy pop, sounding a bit like what might happened if late Beatles-era John Lennon became the singer for The Cure.

Though the band is often linked with punk and garage music, the Beatles are an important musical reference point for Soft Will. The album is full of small touches that sound very “Beatles-esque.” The beginning of “Best Friend” could be an amped-up version of “Across the Universe,” and the piano break in “3AM Spiritual” could have come off The White Album or Sgt. Pepper’s. The highlight of the album is “Idol.” The song deals with the common experience of having a childhood hero, and wondering if that person is as good as you thought they were. Cullen Omori’s nasally falsetto fits in perfectly with the driving chorus, which will be stuck in your head for weeks afterwards. Other standout tracks include the anthem “Varsity” and the guitar-riff driven “Best Friend.”

Smith Westerns, like many other bands, have perfected the “disaffected angry young man” look.

The album only has two minor flaws. There’s an instrument used in most of the songs, I believe an electric keyboard, that has this very “shimmery” sound. I happened to like it, but I can imagine some listeners being annoyed by it. The other minor flaw is that most of the songs have essentially the same sound. The songs are so good, however, that this is not really a major issue. Smith Westerns has crafted a solid indie-rock album, just in time for the summer. If you’re looking for a new band, or want some music to chill by during the hot months of summer, pick up Soft Will by Smith Westerns.

Current Listening: What do you think?

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