Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Western Fifth - Stand Like A Thief

Western Fifth

Stand Like A Thief (Small Fridge Records, 2008)
Grade: B+

Download: Western Fifth - "We've Got The Rain"
Download: Western Fifth - "In The End I Went Away"

In November of last year, I saw a local band from Minneapolis called Western Fifth open for Rock Plaza Central. Their songs were pretty decent, alt-country with a hint of rock. But they mostly provided enjoyable background noise for me that night at The Entry. I heard a few songs that were catchy, and something about them intrigued me. Then, this August, I saw Western Fifth open for Rock Plaza Central again, coincidentally at the same venue as before. In all honesty, I couldn’t believe I was listening to the same band, and I mean that in a good way. I had enjoyed them from a distance upon first listen, but the second show had shown they’d really grown musically. I was informed they had a full-length album on the way, Stand Like a Thief, which I was intrigued to check out.

Western Fifth is composed of 5 musicians, several instruments, and sound like a dirtier, grittier Wilco, with a touch of Up Records-era Modest Mouse, thanks to their howling guitars and strange, raspy voices. Stand Like a Thief is their first full length album, and these songs create an audio landscape of hard times and cold winters with a sweet, sad reverie and sad twangs of yesteryear. Right from the album’s opening with "We’ve Got The Rain", WF sing a sad little song with perfectly placed piano bits and vocal howls that tug at the heartstrings, making for a great soundtrack to a cold night warmed only by whiskey and neon signs in a dive bar.

Thief does have a few songs that are so similar to one another in terms of tempo and harmony it’s often hard to tell the difference between one and the other ("In the End I Went Away" and "I Will Keep You Warm"), but the album is still enjoyable as a whole. It’s questionable if the album could use an upbeat track somewhere to bring in some light, but this might disrupt the entire feel of the songs. Stand Like a Thief is sullen, but the tracks have a sweet dissonance that WF keep from being too depressing. Instead the songs are genuine and packed with character, and make for a well-done debut album.

Western Fifth Myspace Page

(Tara Rogan)

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