Coun­try rock

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Lex Hall

West Coast Town Chris Shi­flett SideOneDummy De­spite forg­ing his sound in the San Fran­cisco punk scene, Foo Fight­ers lead gui­tarist Chris Shi­flett is an avid coun­try-rock fan. His favoured guitar is a Tele­caster; he’s of­ten spot­ted wear­ing a Gram Par­sons and the Fallen An­gels T-shirt; and he even hosts a pod­cast called Walk­ing the Floor, for which he has in­ter­viewed many of his coun­try-rock he­roes. For West Coast Town, his third solo al­bum, he went down to Nashville and en­listed Grammy-win­ning pro­ducer Dave Cobb and a crack team of coun­try play­ers, in­clud­ing pedal-steel ace Robby Turner. Across 10 tracks Shi­flett tra­verses fa­mil­iar themes: get­ting drunk and tak­ing drugs, break­ing up, the rigours of tour­ing and mid­dle age. The open­ing track, Sticks and Stones, runs on the kind of choppy riff that Dwight Yoakam uses so nicely on his 2015 al­bum Sec­ond Hand Heart. Room 102 is a catchy lament in which we glimpse a soli­tary Shi­flett drunk-tex­ting like a “lovesick fool”, and Blow Out the Can­dles brings to mind the Fallen An­gels’ ren­di­tion of We’ll Sweep Out the Ashes in the Morn­ing. But for all its ex­u­ber­ance West Coast Town is a lit­tle too sug­ary to be classed as what Rolling Stone calls “coun­try punk”: the open­ing bars of Girl’s Al­ready Gone, for in­stance, sound per­ilously close to the sound­track to Friends. Shi­flett does a good line in rol­lick­ing coun­try rock and saves some grit­tier bluesy solo­ing for the fi­nal cut, Still Bet­ter Days, but he’s hav­ing too much fun to con­vey the wit and emo­tional force of Par­sons or Merle Hag­gard.

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