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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Western Family

Wish Upon A Scar

Review by Larry Toering

This northwest band has a great line-up of first class musicians that pull off a strong alternative rock album of the heavy persuasion. Recorded at Felony Flats Studio in South East Portland, and anyone who knows where that is can appreciate knowing that detail about this self produced effort. This is a killer band, make no mistake, as it takes very little getting used to its infectious vibes that go from bottom to top and back again. Particularly impressive are the guitars, but the lead and backing vocals are a contender for the spotlight, as well. It’s all backed by an outstanding rhythm section that won't quit.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Pastoral II

This is actually a rather mellow opener, as opposed to where things go on the disc. It’s an unexpected touch straight out of the gate, but a nice one, as they the establish a groove.

Punky Bleach Kit

Getting punky but also funky, this is a killer track with all kinds of tempo changes and a fuzz tone riff that drives it. They add a killer back beat to go with it. This is the kind of thing that needs no vocals, but they pick up here as opposed to the previous track.

Baby

Mellowing back down for a moment, one might think it's going to stay that way, but up goes the tempo and off they are into more of a blend of ups and downs here. Not a ballad but not a rocker, this is more of a melodic number that shows the band’s versatility.

August You Rot

This opens with a cool guitar effect and goes into a huge riff, and turns into what is the most interesting tune on offer thus far. The guitars are big on this one, with some various effects behind a disgruntled lyric. This is where they become undeniably awesome.

Kessa (C.M.F.I.B.A.D.)

A nice soft ballad begins, which turns into an all out rocker by the time it's all said and done. It appears to just get better as it goes, because this rocks with the best of the rest so far. I have no idea what the title is about but it doesn't matter, this is great.

Blue Lagoon

There is a faster pace to begin with here, and a bouncy beat throughout this excellent tune. It has a straight forward approach, which really suits the band. I can take a whole twelve of these alone, as they can seem to do no wrong at this point.

Sally Forth

More soft guitar leads into a languid approach that turns out to be a fantastic ballad, one of the higher quality tracks.

A Cute Anxiety

This one starts off slow but builds yet again into a balance, which can be found on several tracks. That goes to show they have an overall concept to the album, however hard it may be to follow at first.

Rocky Mtn Low

The vocals go into more upfront territory here, as the viewpoint person believes he can fly, and fly this track does. This is another great delivery by all, as they carry on about something to do with the city of Boulder, on a lower note.

Steady Rollin Man

This follows the previous cut with an almost country tinged guitar that quickly goes away. That leads into an acoustic driven number with great melodies and an electric solo for good contrast. There’s an overall pop feel. This isn't the best track but not the worst either, and holds a steady place on the disc, even if it is on the weaker side.

Unbridled

This has a slight gothic feel to it, that shows up in various points on the disc. Things start to pick up and the riff reaches for the sky. That riff aspect is one of the features of the album, but the vocals make a huge statement here, as well. This is a killer track with outstanding feedback.

Wish Upon A Scar

Saving the best for last isn't always the way things are done, as many albums tend to thin out toward the end. This disc, though, reaches the point of epic proportions on this title track. It's a clever way out of a crafty CD full of menacing charm.

 
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