When: Fri., Jan. 28, 9 p.m. 2011
Even by rock ‘n’ roll standards, Chicago’s Smith Westerns are kids: They’re fresh out of high school, and they’ve already released their sophomore effort, the brand-new Dye It Blonde. Occasionally, the quartet’s age shows: The unabashed, youthful glee in the lyrics of “End of the Night” is earnest as all get-out, but Smith Westerns’ knack for poppy, fuzzy riffs and interesting song construction is undeniable. Even more impressive is their ability to incorporate sophisticated influences (proto-punk and glam, most specifically) into their dazzling melodies, rich synth pads and layered vocals. The lush indie-rock tones and bobbing vocal melodies of songs like “Only One,” on the other hand, are reminiscent of latter-day rock and folk saints like The Shins and Fleet Foxes. Then you’ve got their grand pop flourishes and shimmering guitar hooks, which land easily in post-Beatles Beatles terrain — namely Harrison’s All Things Must Pass and Lennon’s John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. Lofty comparisons, sure, but these kids are ambitious and audiophillic; with just a little bit of maturation, they could easily fight their way to the top of the indie-rock heap. We’ll be watching. UK’s Yuck open.
D. Patrick Rodgers