Smith Westerns: DYE IT BLONDE

Tue Mar 01 2011
After you listen to enough music in a lifetime, the best you can hope for is a new band that reminds you of a bunch of your favorite old bands; exceptions are rare.  You might go through a phase where nothing sounds fresh any more, but once you top that mountain you’re free to enjoy bands like Chicago's Smith Westerns without regard for what came before, because the songs are just that good.

Dye It Blonde is…garage rock, sure, but it’s got a ramshackle folkiness akin to The Band (that piano is key) and these anthemic unison choruses like a happy version of Arcade Fire (“End Of The Night” for example).  And then there are the moaning Skynyrd lead guitars that occasionally burst through the haze (see “Still New” and “Dye The World” for starters), making you want to reach for that lighter in your pocket.  These guys may be punks at heart, but they’re ambitious, and their songs are damn near amphitheater-ready.

Dye It Blonde is…sugary pop in a drugged-out echo haze, Tommy James & The Shondells but even heavier and even hippier, with all these Magnetic Zeros-style singalongs (“End Of The Night”, “Smile”).  But the way they gradually build these tidal waves of sound, you don’t notice how massive they’re getting until they strip it down for a minute, and you catch your breath and think ‘wow, that was glorious’.  If you’re like me, at least.

Dye It Blonde is…a carefree lo-fi stroll that sounds kinda like The Vaselines playing inside a sewer pipe (particularly “Only One”).  It’s layer after reverby layer, a sucker punch, sure, but I’m happy to be the sucker.  Two-step rock is easy as shit to play; instant gratification, simple pleasures, but nothing guilty about ‘em.  Smith Westerns make no bones about wanting you to dance and sing along as soon as possible, so they make it easy.  But writing songs like that isn’t so easy, which is why you’ll probably like Dye It Blonde better than most of the other stuff that comes out this year that’ll sound a lot like it.

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