That feeling when you discover a new band for the first time, falls in love with their sound and songs, and actually spend time fearing the fact that they’ll go their separate ways before they fulfil their obvious potential. That feeling is a huge part of the reason why we spend our free time listening to crappy music sent our way, in search for those rare gems that we hope others will appreciate just as much.

The Far West fell into my lap sometime in 2011, and I fell hard for their debut album The Far West, with their mix of traditional country and real the way Uncle Tupelo and Whiskeytown did it way back when. The band started out as a obscure craigslist-ad, only consisting of a link to a Waylon Jennings-video. The newly assembled five-piece recorded their first album at a American Legion Hall, while the bar was open, and it sounds so fresh and still so vintage.
Since then, the band has changed line-up, replacing pedal-steel maestro Erik Kristiansen who was vital to the sound on the first album, and instead keyboard-virtuoso James Williamson become a vital part of their new sound.

Where they earlier sounded like Gram Parsons and Waylon Jennings mixed with the countrier side of early Son Volt, they now sound more like Waylon Jennings crossed with the more rocking side of Son Volt, with a touch of Uncle Tupelo, Bottle Rockets and generous amounts of The Backsliders.

And they have somehow managed to sound even BETTER then before.

Williamson really shines on this album, where his contibutions on the electric piano and the organ are some of my favourite parts. But the band sounds really great. So tight and together, like a BAND. But as good as they are, without Lee Briantes vocals they would have been just another band. With his exceptional voice, he lifts this band beyond that of  being “just another band”, and his voice really suits their music.

The songs are written by Briante and bassplayer Robert Black, the two original founders of The Far West. And where other bands with two songwriters tend to get distinctively different types of songs, their songs seem to merge together, without losing their style in the process.

“Any Day Now” opens with Briantes song “On The Road”, where he takes a look at L.A. and Hollywood, seen from an outsiders perspective. After forming the band, Briante moved from Hudson Valley to L.A, where the band now recides.

Everyone’s chasing a ghost
Everyone’s chasing a dream
Everyone’s the next Monroe
Everyone’s the next James Dean
It’s a long, long, long dusty road
And we all are travelling alone

He writes about Hudson Valley in the song “Hudson Valley, and talks about his old homeplace with longing in his voice, while Williamsons saloon-sounding piano sets the mood.

I was standing at the station
watching trains leave all day long

Black also talks about places from his youth, when he in “Wichita” talks about a place and a time that meant a lot to him, while the band as a whole channels The Jayhawks with steady perfection.

Old 97’s and The Backsliders are obvious inspirations to the kick-ass “The Bright Side”, where Black basically just tells the world to fuck off, while Bakkers guitarsolo is as delicious as they come.

There’s a couple of beautiful ballads here too, especially the “could-have-been-plucked-from-Claptons-Slowhand”-ish “These Arms Will be Empty”, and “She’s Gonna Leave Him Too”, which is heartbreaking it’s own brilliance. And let’s not forget the closing song “Across The Bend”, which is just the kind of song that I recommend hearing while sitting down, as it will make your knees weak in it’s beauty.

Looking at this from the outside of the US, this just feels like a dusty trip through the US, meeting people along the way, everyone with a story to tell – sad or happy. And The Far West just draws from a rich history of music, where their sound which is so solidly anchored in genuine and original, still sounds like what you would guess Americana should sound like – if you just heard the name of the genre.

Fuck, I LOVE this album! I’m calling it Essential Listening.

Get it from The Far West (they also have vinyl). Check out their Facebookpage.

Hudson Valley


Last month I asked if you guys would be interested in a monthly Ninebullets Spotify playlist. You seemed pretty responsive to the idea so here is the first one. This playlist features every band that was featured on ninebullets in the month of January that was also on Spotify. I hope you enjoy it and if you do, pass it along to some friends. Like I keep saying, every new pair of ears these bands reach is a potential fan/head at show.

This month’s playlist features: Lauderdale, Ryan Adams, Jason Isbell, The Far West, Will Hoge, Sasparilla, The Rainmakers, Micah Schnabel, Hellbound Glory, Molly Gene, Lucero, Childish Gambino, Chris Cornell, The Pack A.D., The Dirt Daubers and Low Cut Connie.

The January 2012 Spotify Playlist


Life as a music blogger can get pretty frustrating. A lot of bands and artists send you their stuff either through the mail, via email or Reviewshine. Music they’ve worked on, and spent a lot of money recording. Music is subjective, but to be honest – a lot of the stuff I get to hear is really not that good.

Thankfully I write about music in genres in and around alt. country and americana, where there are a lot more good bands than let’s say mainstream pop. But after sifting through 30-40-50 new albums, and finding utter crap – suddenly you stumble upon these gems just sitting there, waiting to be discovered.

And every year I do this, those gems are what keeps you going. Doing the dirty work of sorting through all the rubbish to find those good albums that you just can’t wait to tell other people about.That’s what brought me to Ninebullets the first time – when I was looking for new stuff to listen to, and that’s why I’m proud to be a part of the writers staff now – sharing my own finds with the world..And one of my favorite albums from this year was hidden between numerous “okay, but not great” submissions on Reviewshine. And now I’m passing them on to you.

They call themselves “The Far West”, and that’s really how they sound.
Like cowboys from a long lost outposts, somewhere from far out west, who has hooked up with the ghosts of Whiskeytown and Hank Williams.

What got me hooked was two things;  the pedal-steel. I’m a sucker for a kickin’ pedal-steel, and the excellent Erik Kristiansen (Ryan Adams, Backsliders Roscoe’s Gang) is as good as they come.

The second was Lee Briantes vocal. He’s got that slightly hoarse, laid back voice that makes him able to do both rock’n’roll and traditional country in style. He wouldn’t have been out of place in Sun Studios in the 50s or at the Opry in that same time period.

Favorites on this album are many, the opening tune “Bitter, Drunk and Cold” first made me think “Is this a Whiskeytown song I haven’t heard?”, with it’s delicious pedal-steel and country sound. “Nothing Like You” brings a lot of rockabilly into the sound, and my favorite song on the album is the brilliant “The Best Company (Misery Ever Had)” about a relationship based on “this is just for fun” but turns out a bit more serious… for one of the parties at least.

Other songs worthy of mention are “Bound To Loose”, the sad country song “Where I Get Off” and “I’ll Never Drink Again”.

The album was recorded at the American Legion Memorial Hall in Enticina in California, and songs are written by singer Lee Briante and bass player Robert Black. The recording has been done mostly live, with few overdubs, which is very suitable to this sound and this album I might add.

The Far West – Bitter, Drunk and Cold
The Far West – Nothing Like You
The Far West – Bound To Lose

The Far West Official Site, The Far West on Facebook, The Far West on Spotify, Buy their album.