Western Lows didn’t form. Not all at once, anyway. The project came into being slowly, in fits and starts, over the course of 2011– a year that found Jack Burnside (ex-Mezzanine Owls) at loose ends, gradually assembling the material that would make up Western Lows’ debut album. 2012 saw Burnside travel from Los Angeles to Athens, GA to record with Andy LeMaster (Now It’s Overhead, REM, Azure Ray) at Chase Park Transduction.
With LeMaster on board as bassist, producer and co-conspirator, half-solid ideas gradually began to assume a concrete shape. Glacial’s ten songs burn, flicker, and fade in their own light, cutting a path that flows and eddies, marrying hushed vocals with barbed-wire guitars and widescreen washes of sound.
From the stark opening guitar line of “Grapevine,” Glacial unfolds gradually, revealing itself inch by inch. In its quieter moments, the record travels the same highway that led bands like Mazzy Star to their most arresting work. Stormers like “Last Known Rivers” and “Gave Away” are carried by whorls of beautiful noise, echoing Mission of Burma or Guided by Voices, bands that knew how to let a bent-backward guitar part tell its own story.
The haze clears on “Icicles”, a track that recalls the kind of anxious-but-hopeful crystal-clear pop that put The Cure on the radio. “Lazy” starts up with a blast of MBV-esque tremolo-arm growl draped over the steady rumble of Jeremy Wheatley’s drum kit. Wheatley (Crooked Fingers) and Clay Leverett (Bright Eyes) trade off on drums over the course of the record. Orenda Fink (Azure Ray) contributes vocals on “I Will”.
Now featuring a lineup rounded out by Julien Bellin and Michael Orendy, Western Lows will release Glacial in the UK and Europe via Highline Records on September 9th.