After a year of intermittent recording between hard-drive crashes and rewrites, alt-country five-piece the Western Set released their debut LP, Country Music, on March 3 at the Tin Can Ale House.
Vox/guitarist Patrick Conway calls the album, a self-released run of 100 CDs, “very much homemade.”
The ten-song release was recorded at the Hillcrest home studio Conway shares with guitar/vocalist Emily Schrader and labeled with their home brand, 39/44 Records.
“Punk music has really shaped our band ethics,” says Schrader. “It’s very DIY.”
“Almost all of us come from punk and hardcore and...gravitated toward country, and I really can’t say why,” says Conway, who previously wrote political hardcore songs with Tamora and played grindcore with Schrader in Puppy Time.
Vox/bassist Justin Rodriguez has math-emo roots with Counterfit, while drummer Joey Nelson comes from cabaret-rock quintet the Silent Comedy.
Conway says the album’s title track is an examination of modern-pop and country’s “disposable songs.”
“I was watching CMT, and I think Carrie Underwood came on, and it was just this dogshit music, and I was thinking, You can’t tell me this is what country music is all about. There is very little difference between country and pop these days.”
“Pop-country belongs to another class of music,” says Aaron Brownwood (lead guitar, pedal steel).
“But,” Conway continues, “I realize the humor in a bunch of San Diego kids talking like an authority on country. That’s not lost on me.”
Conway says the album’s dark streak “isn’t by invention, but I don’t draw inspiration from great days,” a statement made evident by tracks such as “Blue, So Blue,” “You’re Dead to Me,” and “We’ll Never Bloom Again.”
“Honesty has been a huge influence on this band,” Conway says. “Meaning it has always been more important than being good at it.”