We Are the West celebrate a new album at Saturday’s parking garage concert
Environment has always informed We Are the West’s distinctive music, whether they were recording in a New York barn or the New Mexican desert. Live sounds of rain and frogs accented their bucolic 2016 EP “Regards,” and their new album “The Golden Shore” likewise emphasizes soulful atmospherics — although nature’s moods are suggested by shifting time signatures rather than field recordings.
Frontman/guitarist Brett Hool and bassist John Kibler recorded foundational tracks live with drummer Elizabeth Goodfellow, then overdubbed with a parade of friends toting keyboards, horns and sundry stringed instruments. Three years in the making, layered with more sophisticated ideas and arrangements, “The Golden Shore” is more ambitious than We Are the West’s previous work.
“All these roads lead you home/ Your hour of need come and gone/ We’ll get there before too long,” Hool promises over lulling cycles of guitar and Marie Abe’s accordion during “Tonight’s Tonight.” Kristen Toedtman’s backing vocals drape his acoustic fingerpicking like an ethereal veil on the gorgeous “From the Bower,” while “Luck of the Sailor” shifts into upbeat pop with piano, violin and sunny harmonies. A jarring coalition of Optigan, pump organ, baritone sax, percussion and disembodied vocals marches into a metallic future for “More Machine than Man.”
Much of We Are the West’s improvisatory exploration has occurred at the Santa Monica underground parking garage where they’ve hosted a monthly series for six years — an unlikely venue whose ambient qualities have proved hospitable for musical gatherings, which Hool and Kibler have personalized before shows with artwork, candles and an old-fashioned popcorn machine. On Saturday it’s where they’ll celebrate the release of “The Golden Shore” — reportedly the night a blue moon will illuminate the sky. For an album referencing visions and shooting stars, that feels wholly appropriate.
— Bliss Bowen
We Are the West preform from 8 to 11:30 p.m. Saturday (March 31) in the garage of the 701 Building, 701 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica. $10 suggested donation. Visit wearethewest.com