The Great Northwest - Widespread Reign of...
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The Great Northwest
Widespread Reign of...

Reverberating with the same sort of soft, warm sheen that a lot of classic rock albums from Southern California in the 70s possessed, Widespread Reign of The Great Northwest is a woozy head-trip of spaced-out rock songs that sound like they could have been released at any point in the past three decades. Although they feature members of The Dandy Warhols, The Great Northwest sounds nothing at all like that group, instead taking on a true laid-back Pacific vibe that conjures up everything from the aforementioned So Cal feel to the spaced-out influences of bands from the area of their namesake.

Over the course of thirteen songs and just under an hour in running length, the group basically wraps your head up in a warm blanket and then doesn't let it out again. "Chief John" sets the table with dreamy guitars, organ, and breathy vocals all pushed through a soft-panning vibrato that just slightly messes with your senses, while "Reverie" continues the dive into narcotic sound with more submerged-sounding keys, overlapping splays of painterly guitars, and sparse vocals that add another hazy texture.

And really, that's sort of how Widespread Reign of The Great Northwest plays out, with "Western American" taking on a slightly more acoustic (but still completely drenched with reverb) sound before "Know What I Mean" unfurls some of the heartiest guitar riffs on the entire release, backed up with dense instrumentation that includes even more guitars, some pitch-bent electric piano, harmonica, and more drugged-out vocals. At just under six minutes, the juicy song sounds like a dense pop track of half the length slowed down to 50% speed just to fuck with the senses.

In the end, it's a release of weird juxtapositions. The pace of the release is slowcore, but it doesn't carry the sometimes crushing weight that that term sometimes implies, and at the same time it blends a sort of classic rock aesthetic with an at least somewhat condensed space-rock vibe. Top it off with some amazing production and you've got a release that's definitely good for a serious soak. Those looking for a bit more variety (or tempo) might find themselves nodding off a bit, but I think that might also be kind of the point here.

rating: 7.2510
Aaron Coleman 2008-07-31 20:55:16