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Friday, 26 July 2013 10:38

Charting the Music: Smith Westerns, 'Soft Will'

Charting the Music: Smith Westerns, 'Soft Will' facebook.com/smithwesterns
Written by Julie Greene
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Smith Westerns trade in their garage-rock roots for a more mature and atmospheric indie-rock sound on their latest release, "Soft Will."

'70s glam rock, pop, dreamy melodies and reflections about wasted youth all come together on Smith Westerns' third album.

88.1 KDHX chart position: #3 Adult Album Alternative and #5 CMJ Top 30 for July 16, 2013.

Record label, release date and producer: Mom + Pop Music released "Soft Will" on June 25, 2013; the album was produced by Chris Coady.

Can be heard on: Juxtaposition with Rob Levy, the Space Parlour with Nick Acquisto and Gold Soundz with Chris Bay.

RIYL: Surfer Blood, but with less edge and more melodies.

Hometown: Chicago.

Standout tracks: The album's opener, "3am Spiritual" sets the mood for the entire album. With its opening lyrics "it's easier to think you're dumb, like you were" to its synth-based chorus, the song evokes a sense of melancholy about the bitter realization that time is fleeting but, at the same time, is balanced out by the upbeat instruments.

About the band: Max Kakacek (lead guitar) and Cullen Omori (vocals, guitar) formed Smith Westerns in 2007 while they were still high school students. Shortly after forming, they recruited Cameron Omori, Cullen's brother, on bass, while each member switched off on drums. They released their first self-titled album in 2009, but it wasn't until 2011 with the release of their second album that the band garnered notable attention. Now, with the help of Julien Ehrlich, the band's new drummer, Smith Westerns is back with their latest release.

This producer: Chris Coady is the producer behind Smith Westerns' album "Soft Will" as well as their previous release, "Dye It Blonde." Coady has also produced albums by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Beach House, Grizzly Bear, TV on the Radio, and many others. And in 2011, The Guardian named Coady as one of the top 10 upcoming music producers.

This label: Michael Goldstone and Q Prime Management founded the New York City-based indie rock label Mom + Pop Music in mid-2008. Since then, the label has generated an impressive list of artists including Andrew Bird, Metric, Neon Indian and Sleigh Bells.

What the critics say: "Smith Westerns may have gradually sloughed off all their fans who liked the swaggering lo-fidelity style they began with, but with "Soft Will," they should gain back some people who like thoughtful, melodically rich indie rock that isn't sleepy or clichéd or boring. This album is none of those things and, thanks to their actual growth as artists, it may be their best yet." Tim Sendra, AllMusic.

Play it while: Packing your stuff with the intention of hitting the road and hoping for a better life.

Discover more new music on all the 88.1 KDHX charts.

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