88.1 WKNC’s Pick of the Week 3/2
By WKNC DJ Margot
Musically, my parents and I do not agree on much. They raised me on ABBA, Moody Blues and everything 70s. By high school, I had dropped everything oldies for the indie music that is so prevalent in our generation.
But, after giving them a good listen of the Smith Westerns new album, Dye It Blonde, I had the whole family agree on a band that didn’t hit their peak in 1978. And if you haven’t been listening to indie music, the Smith Westerns provide a great starting point.
The band doesn’t throw you through the hoops of obscurity that many people feel indie music is, but reminds fans of the early rock they grew up listening to as kids.
Dye It Blonde is the second album that the band has produced and was just released in mid-January. Their 60s-inspired Beatlesque sound is both familiar and new, compelling listeners to keep listening through the end of the album.
Their lyrics are honest and simple, and complement their traditional yet somehow experimental instrumentation well. Expect strong electric guitar, pop keys and soft vocals that are oddly mesmerizing. Also expect a lot – and I mean a lot – of electric guitar solos.
The band hails from the Windy City and consists of vocalist Cullen Omori, guitarist Max Kakacek and bassist Cameron Omori. Before this album release, they toured with some of the big names in the business – MGMT, Florence and the Machine, Belle and Sebastian and Passion Pit. The band was named band of the week by Rolling Stone Magazine after their release of Dye it Blonde on Jan. 18.
For a first listen, check out the tracks “Fallen In Love” and “Only One.” These two songs are both different, but are connected by minor chords and melancholy rock that makes you want to take a road trip – just in time for Spring Break. So, grab a copy of Dye It Blonde, get in the car with some friends and book it.
If you are already a fan of the Smith Westerns or didn’t like them the first time you heard them, expect cleaner, softer sounds and clearer vocals – an overall improvement from their self-titled first album in 2009.
Dye It Blonde is the band’s graduation album, from teenage garage sound to a more polished, grown-up sound. The band leaves behind the harsh, quick vocals for slow melodic echoes.
Check out the song “Smile” for something clearer and dreamier than their original sound. The song features a chorus that is unexpected compared to the rest of the album, making the song stand out compared to the rest of the tracks.
Dye It Blonde provides a great transition, both for the band and for the 60s sound that seems to be coming back in great demand. I would recommend the album to anyone who’s been looking for a Beatles rebirth or is a fan of the Dum Dum Girls. Imagine a masculine, louder Dum Dum Girls and you have the Smith Westerns.
88.1 WKNC Pick of the Week is published every Wednesday in the print edition of Technician, as well as online at technicianonline.com and wknc.org.