Conventional wisdom says the CD is a dying format. But playing in a band means bucking most conventions, which explains why The Red Western took the bold leap of releasing two CDs — Arrows and Sirens — simultaneously. If that wasn’t daring enough, both discs feature just five songs, which all could have easily fit on a single disc. It looks crazy on the surface, but it’s actually a savvy move to get the band’s music heard.
- Photo courtesy of Benjie Heasley
- The Red Western
“Musicians and avid music listeners will sit down and listen to an entire album,” says guitarist/vocalist Jonathan Gunnell. “But most people don’t. They listen to streaming, so tracks five though 10 all get lost. On Bandcamp, [we’ve seen that] the first three tracks on the previous albums got way more plays than the rest of the songs. This [releasing two EPs] is kind of a way to get around that. Maybe people will pay more attention to all 10 songs instead of just the first couple.”
While recording, the members noticed that nature factored into the lyrics of half the songs, while the rest seemed to deal with love, or the lack thereof. That made it easier to place songs like “Sycamore Tree” and “Mountain Air” on Arrows, while Sirens features “Away Too Long” and “16.”
Originally a quintet when formed in 2007, The Red Western faced a challenge with the departure of guitarist and songwriter Sean Soisson. Rather than replacing him, the remaining band members (Gunnell, vocalist/guitarist Lauren DeLorenze, bassist Jay Leon, drummer Sean Finn) buckled down, writing more as a group and moving farther from their alt-country origins toward heavy pop. While “group compositions” can often mean basic grooves with vocals on top, the band meticulously arranged its songs to emphasize the nuances of DeLorenze’s vocals, the layers of guitars and the dynamics. The title track to Arrows in particular bears this out. It changes key in the chorus and adds harmony vocals that have the lushness of a top-shelf ’70s AM-radio production.