By Adam Lawrence
The debut EP is the best way an unsigned band can walk up to an unsuspecting public, stick out their hand and say, “Hi.” “We’re a promising local band. Here is a sample of what you can expect from us in the coming weeks/months/years as we play every show we can and hopefully quit our day jobs and make a living doing what we love.” Such is the case with Mayor West.
Having recently released their debut EP Interstate Lullaby, the band has taken their place in a quickly growing Seattle Alt-country community. It’s fitting, since this is the land of No Depression and country-themed venues like the Tractor Tavern, that Mayor West has come out swinging with a sound that actually makes one think of country music. For a while now, the genre has changed into a hodgepodge of different approaches, falling further and further away from its roots of shuffling beats and bottom heavy reverb.
Luckily, Mayor West understands the importance of staying close to their influences. Just one listen to “Kentucky” or “Spencer” you’ll remember a time when Uncle Tupelo was just a little band out of rural Illinois, before they spawned the critical juggernauts Wilco and Son Volt.
Their greatest strength is strong instrumentation. Garth Highsmith’s steel and banjo playing adds a dimension to the band that will keep them on the right track toward a sound that’s more Country than Alt, and that’s a welcome shift. Steven Takeuchi writes songs that are longing and a bit mysterious, and the rhythm section of bass player Chris Hess and drummer Danny Kelly provide a solid backbone upon which the whole thing floats.
It’s always a pleasure to watch a band take their first steps into the larger world of opening for their heroes and standing on their own two feet. Interstate Lullaby is a confident EP that gives a nice glimpse into the future while hanging on to the very best of the past. As they grow, expect to see a lot more of Mayor West in the fertile Alt-country arena. – (7/10)