Western Lows began with Jack Burnside, once of US cult band Mezzanine Owls, but soon evolved when recruiting the talents of Andy LeMaster (REM, Azure Ray, Now It's Overhead) as bass player, producer and co-conspirator. Half-solid ideas gradually began to assume a concrete shape. The end product is ten songs that burn, flicker, and fade in their own light, cutting a path that flows and eddies, marrying hushed vocals with barbed-wire guitars and widescreen washes of sound.
When Jack Burnside sat with producer Andy LeMaster in a bar in Athens, Georgia after a long day of recording in 2012, he was stumped for some lyrics to complete his album. Thankfully, LeMaster's friend Michael Stipe joined them at the bar that night, and helped Jack write some lyrics on a bar napkin which would later complete the song "Tall White Church".
Western Lows didn't form. Not all at once, anyway. The project came into being slowly, in fits and starts, over the course of 2011-- a year that found Jack Burnside at loose ends, gradually assembling the material that would make up Western Lows' debut album Glacial. Burnside had previously enjoyed a cult following in the USA with his dreampop band Mezzanine Owls, who were firmly embedded in the California shoegaze scene. In 2012 Burnside once again travelled from Los Angeles to Athens, GA to record with Andy LeMaster (Now It's Overhead, REM, Azure Ray, Alessi's Ark) at Chase Park Transduction.
With LeMaster on board as bassist, producer and co-conspirator, half-solid ideas gradually began to assume a concrete shape. Glacial's ten songs burn, flicker, and fade in their own light, cutting a path that flows and eddies, marrying hushed vocals with barbed-wire guitars and widescreen washes of sound.
From the stark opening guitar line of lead single "Grapevine," Glacial unfolds gradually, revealing itself inch by inch. In its quieter moments, the record travels the same highway that led bands like Mazzy Star to their most arresting work. Stormers like "Last Known Rivers" and "Gave Away" are carried by whorls of beautiful noise, echoing Mission of Burma or Guided byVoices, bands that knew how to let a bent-backward guitar part tell its ownstory.
The haze clears on "Icicles", a track that recalls the kind of anxious-but-hopeful crystal-clear pop that put The Cure on the radio. "Lazy" starts up with a blast of MBV-esque tremolo-arm growl draped over the steady rumble of Jeremy Wheatley's drum kit. Wheatley (Crooked Fingers) and Clay Leverett (Bright Eyes) trade off on drums over the course of the record.Orenda Fink (Azure Ray) contributes vocals on "I Will".
Some bands appear out of nowhere. Western Lows is a band that sounds like it remembers what nowhere felt like. Glacial will be available September 9th on Highline Records.
On Monday 9th September WESTERN LOWS will release their new album Glacial on Highline Records.
Take a look back at October's inaugural event.
The film is expected to continue without Mendes' involvement.