The trio Coastwest Unrest formed in 2009 in Las Vegas. In that time they ve released two albums, their debut effort Songs From the Desert and their sophomore follow-up Old Weird America. Old Weird America is essential Coastwest Unrest; it is full of instantly catchy folk-rock tunes that utilize all three members of the band, Alex Barnes and brothers Josh and Noah Dickie. Tracks like Down in the Mouth showcase the bands signature sound as acoustic guitars play catchy rhythms, harmonica and drums add to the overall ambience, and the violin played by Barnes always seems to do a lot without ever doing too much. Old Weird America came about from CU s travels across the country and their inspirations during specific moments of touring. You can feel the haunting reach of Weird America in every song on the album. Old Weird America is the wonderfully elusive second effort that surpasses the original.
The term old weird America was coined by renowned music writer Greil Marcus, and used to rename Invisible Republic, his book on Bob Dylan/The Band's 1967 Basement Tapes recordings. The term describes the amalgamation of 1920s/1930s folk, blues and country music embodied on Harry Smith's iconic Anthology of American Folk Music, which is thought to heavily influence Dylan during the Basement Tapes era. It's a curious source of inspiration for a band out of Las Vegas, a place not exactly known for embracing roots music. But the city's musical range has been expanding quicker than the city itself -- which is saying something -- and Coastwest Unrest is evidence of that adventurousness. Indeed, folk, blues and country music inform the entirety of the trio's interpretative Old Weird America, with flashes of Irish jigs, waltzes and punk cropping up here and there. Its character mostly comes from heavy use of the violin, acoustic guitars and harmonica, not to mention drummer Josh Dickie's hiccuping rhythms, which are as unconventional as singer Noah Dickie's cadences. Actually, you could argue this is all quite traditional -- way back traditional -- and they give you something to soak up in absence of whatever modern pop elements you're normally expecting. But even those old weird (but tweaked) touchstones can fall background to Noah's often subtly delivered lyrics, which update the sort of socio-cultural criticism (Ian MacKaye would tell you why/your armies fell in The Underground) and Biblical imagery (When you're down in the mouth/remember Jonah made it out all right in Down in the Mouth) Dylan has used all his career. How refreshing it is to get lost in the words of a local songwriter; Noah's lyrical ambition puts him on par with Wyatt McKenzie. Your words are loud but your ideas are quiet from the somewhat ironic Rebel Music could be about modern politics. But if you reversed the sentiment and switched the adjectives, the thought could describe Noah and his very interesting band, who have produced a remarkable debut. MIKE PREVATT --Las Vegas Citylife
An ode to Sin City...... I ve been enjoying a full-length by the Las Vegas act, Coastwest Unrest since I got tipped off by our partners at Neon Reverb about it early in the week. The album is called, Old Weird America (Reclaim Records) and it fluctuates from Americana punk rock at one moment to BECK Mutations/Sea Change era to Blitzen Trapper. The album has 2-3 heads but it all somehow fits together in theme and feels like the Vegas answer to Tom Waits, when he told tales of dirty Hollywood. This track, Lady Luck Death Dance , is an ode to Sin City, with less about the shiny casino and more about the grand allusion on my street . Frontman Noah Dickie has a voice you won t forget, made just for True Blood or would ve fit nicely on HBO s Carnivale when it was on air. I met this girl at a party. she wanted me to tell her a story. she said you gotta strange voice, will you sing it to me. tell me all about your city, Las Vegas from Lady Luck Death Dance SONG OF THE DAY: Coastwest Unrest Lady Luck Death Dance --Future Sounds
It s nice to hear the sound of the moment mixed up and messed around with a bit. This CD has some pretty typical Roots/Americana/Indie sounds that are so popular right now, but distinctively constructed with some unlikely rhythms and influences from prog-rock to jazz. It makes for a mix that works to keep the music here from sounding like a carbon-copy of the acoustic guitar/fiddle stuff that dominates rock-oriented releases these days. SOUNDS LIKE: IRON AND WINE, MEKONS, BOB DYLAN SUGGESTED TRACKS: 2 I m A Ghost Now (almost like a hoedown SIGUR ROS at points) 4 The Lonesome Tale Of Bacchus Lee (jazz/swing/folk) 10 The Underground (slow-boiling epic) --Pirate Cat Radio