Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Western Hymn Climbs Up From The Underground In Olympia

Western HymnNot everyone has heard the power punk LP released by Western Hymn last year. It was a self-released vinyl record with a limited run of 300. Their tour was handled much in the same way. They played in basements and pizzerias. Their gear was broken. Some of it was vintage.

The same can be said about the Olympia-based lineup: Western Hymn is made up of Craig Extine (guitar, vocals), formerly of Old Haunts; Sarah Utter (bass, vocals), formerly with Bangs, and Kris Cunningham (drums), formerly with Couch of Eureka but also in I'm A Gun. Starting with Extine and Utter, they began playing when and where they wanted before bringing Cunningham in along for the ride.

As some people might know, Bangs had broken up when Utter moved to Los Angeles and Old Haunts had faded into the background after their last album didn't have enough bite. Not many people can say that with the release of Out Of The Way by Western Hymn.

Western Hymn climbs up from the underground.

With the help of K Records, Western Hymn has already received a lukewarm reception. Expect it to grow hot. Western Hymn is only hindered in that they were so far underground that no one outside of the Northwest (and maybe Olympia) even knew they existed. How far underground? Check out this performance.

While the venue doesn't do much to catch the snarls or what the trio has taken to calling a thundering guitar propulsion, it does demonstrate where Western Hymn is placing the emphasis. It's all about the music, no matter where they play.

Out Of The Way is a winner from start to finish.

All four tracks off the EP are winners. Underground wins with its consistent pounding, Extine's steady vocals backed by Utter's chorus response. Along with Underground, Out of the Way scores with its murky undertones, Take This Weight with its funky beat, and Life Is Strange with strangled, clipped guitar riffs tucked in between the choruses.

The band dishes out several under 2-minute clips in its MySpace arsenal, all of it underscored by Extine's scratchy voice. But even more than sharp-sided songs, the band comes together with two strong lead guitars, even if one of them has traded it in for the bass.

Western Hymn is good enough that we hope it sticks. Extine is known for two things beyond his music. He always attracts dynamic musicians to perform with him and he is always in a state of change. Utter often has plenty to work on too. She is equally well known for her painting and design work, and never let herself get boxed in by critics.

Out Of The Way By Western Hymn Uncovers A 7.2 On The Liquid Hip Scale.

Maybe it's because the band is currently under covered or slowly clawing its way toward larger venues down the West Coast, mostly in Washington, but we've added Western Hymn to the watch list. We're not alone. Weekly Volcano reader called them the best indie band in Olympia during their Best of Olympia party.

Out Of The Way is on iTunes. You can find Out of the Way and Underground on vinyl at Amazon. The album was released in March, but was initially released to K Records subscribers in September.
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