The Broken West

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I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On

Merge

The Broken West sure seem like they make good music.  I’m not sure if I’m entirely convinced yet.  The response to this record has been fairly warm from what I can gather thus far, yet it doesn’t grab me.  The moments I enjoy the most on the record remind me too much of the songs and bands they were influenced by that I question whether they are actually direct quotes from those songs. “Down In The Valley” recalls Carl Newman while adding a dash of the heartland into the mix, yet fails to live up to the influence I’m hearing. The Broken West churns out a blend of laid-back power-pop that is heavily routed with country-rock and Americana.  Big Star is the strongest influence throughout each song, yet I can’t picture someone like Paul Westerberg to be inspired to pen a tune about one the Broken West boys. I will give the keyboard player his due.  With a tone that can be warm and overdriven or lushly delicate, Scott Claasen’s key work balances what is otherwise a fairly generic sound that has worn it’s heels down on many records before.  One highlight for me is the ethereal “Baby On My Arm.”   The closing number, “Like A Light”, meanders gently while continually hinting at the possibility of rocking out.  When the band finally kicks in, I’m disappointed in the payoff.  It’s a trick many bands employ to prove their intensity but these guys are just too tame and predictable to convince me they really feel it.   I could see many people out there really liking this record.  I’m just not one of them.

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