Thursday, May 8, 2008

Reviews:: Sleepercar West Texas

It's becoming a disturbingly all too common trend for punk/hardcore rawkers to jump onto an acoustic and sing poorly crafted whisky soaked ballads. Sadly, artists think twang equals credibility and fail to realize that country fused tracks aren't as easy to write as you'd think.

That's why I was a bit skeptical about the debut LP from Sleepercar, appropriately named West Texas. Basically, if you read any of the press you'd know it was the new side project for former At The Drive In, current Sparta member, Jim Ward.

While I happily can listen to the technical fury that was ATDI, I kind of never bothered with Sparta since they followed the same path and I kind of thought there would be very little addition by subtraction. What I didn't know is that Jim's been writing these stripped down tracks for years and finally took the time to release the songs and tour. Naturally, being the hater I am, I assumed any venture into country would be a tough listen.

Well, this is me eating my words - well, sort of. The press surrounding the record is very misleading. This record is more than just a collection of tear-in-your-beer tracks. It offers a lot of melody, diversity and density. Even at it's dustiest (tracks like Fences Down and Wednesday Nights), Ward's arrangements scoot along and have an energy crackling through them. Instead of trying to re-invent himself, Ward has used his experience to help put his stamp on an oversaturated genre. As he screams the outro to Wednesday Nights over some heavy electric and drum crashes, you get transported from the open air to the grit of the city. More importantly, you realize the power some of these songs have.

Heavy Weights reveals itself slowly, stepping out of the scattered noise into a graceful acoustic/slide number, but still has some heavy backing vocals and a surge of energy that continues to build on Sound the Alarm. What I like about this effort is that unlike so many of his peers, Ward wasn't limited by a sound. He didn't set out to make an alt-country record or even any "type" of record at all. It's a collection of songs that he's been working on for years and really demonstrate how talented he is. As a result, a lovely duet like End of a Year (which vocal help from Denali's Maura Davis) doesn't sound out of place compared to some of the heavier tracks like Wasting My Time.

Sleepercar is playing here in Vancouver on May 21st/08 with another punker turned alt-country guy, Dallas Green (from Alexisonfire) aka City & Colour.

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Posted at 5:10 PM by ack :: 2 comments

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At 4:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous did sayeth:

it is because they all want to be ben nicholls, but you know that aint gonna happen


At 8:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous did sayeth:

I heard Jim Ward first on his album Quiet. I haven't heard much of West Texas, but I really enjoyed Quiet which are stripped down songs.


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