Westelaken wear cowboy boots in mosh pits. Okay, maybe they don’t but from the sounds of their mix of bedraggled pop-punk and honky-tonk country, that’s something Westelaken fans could do at shows.
On Westelaken, a piano and drum kit are pummeled and an euphoric sounding trumpet is played. There’s a forlornness stoked by Hank Williams (with a sorrowful song like “Lonesome As I’ve Been,” it’s hard to not think of Williams) and an air of grungy punk discontentment.
For the most part, these sounds occupy their own space, as if Westelaken changes from a black tee and jeans to a Nudie suit in between tracks. “Staring at Americans” is a thunderous spitball of a punk track but is followed by a hoedown ready ditty (“Life is Sweet”) and a mournful piano-based tune about regret (“I was a Vulture”).
“Jackie Chan” is a “long and empty bicycle ride through the city,” to use a phrase from the track. It’s the catchiest track of the bunch with a driving beat and and a guitar and piano melody that adds enough lightness to the track to overpower its weighty nervousness.
The brightest rhinestone of the bunch is “Pink Lights, and The Dixieland Band.” The song begins as a quiet heartbroken ballad but as the nostalgia grows stronger, more people join in and the song becomes louder. But as much as there’s a longing for the past, this song is ultimately about letting go and becoming a better person. So as the song gets busier, the mood is lifted and you feel encouraged to dance, dance, dance.
Top Tracks: “Pink Lights, and The Dixieland Band”; “Jackie Chan”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)