With guitars unabashedly out front and vocal melodies as catchy as they are strained and sullen, PDX's Western Family reminds us that the Rose City was built on rock and roll (some country, too). It's tough not to get onboard with the interplay of the guitarists. Their instruments often emerge with '70s cock rock bluster out of serene squeals, arpeggiated jangles and seductive strumming (as usual poised drumming makes it all possible). However, the honey hole is Kevin Colgan's lightly grated gullet.
On "Pastoral II," Colgan delivers a ration of truth with the lyric, "I can't stand this fuckin' song," in such a passive manner as to suggest exhaustion with the whole damn world. His snarkily-aggressive line in "Punky Bleach Kit," "Goo-goo ga-ga, yeah, cry me a river," feels as pitiless as it sounds. Hey, it can't be all bummers, right? The chord progression in "Blue Lagoon" sounds majorly joyful, but, as per usual, the subject matter is not. Peppiest song about a mutual break-up, ever. Here, the aforementioned guitar work pops off as well. Guitarist Ryan Schmidt isn't afraid to get noodle-y on the fretboard, but only in service to the song.
If your heart desires new-fashioned rock, Wish Upon a Scar may just do.