Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Album Review: Cory Hanson - Western Cum

Cory Hanson
Western Cum
***and1/2 out of *****

Wand frontman Cory Hanson's previous solo albums have been more meditative country leaning affairs but for the fluidly titled Western Cum, Hanson has plugged in and pushed the volume up to 11, rocking hard through these eight guitar driven tracks. 

Playing with a full band that includes, Hanson – guitar, vocals, Evan Backer – drums, Casey Hanson – bass guitar, Tyler Nuffer – guitar, pedal steel guitar, the sound allows the guitars to take center stage as the recording from Zac Hernandez captures the band with vitality. The opening "Wings" starts with flashes of classic rock, in the vein of Thin Lizzy, before shifting into prog scented changes that keep the listener engaged as the guitars swirl and seem to want to jam forever as the opener fades out. 

Those flashes of light prog rock (very reminiscent of Hanson's main band Wand) also peek through the more direct rocking sounds on "Horsebait Sabotage" as cascading layers of heavy riffage smokes the speakers, then change on dime, but nothing will prepare the listener for the changes on "Persuasion Architecture" which pairs out and out noise metal at thrashing speeds with delicate acoustic passages, the end result is too jarring to full immerse in. 

Also of note is Hanson's lyrics and vocals which are a touch puzzling. His laid back vocal style lends themselves to the softer verses placed amongst the solos and guitar overdubs, but lyrically things make zero sense, such as name checking the movie Twins on the aptly named "Twins" which uses weepy pedal steel and the twangy "Ghost Ship" which talks about smuggling cocaine next to your balls, amongst other things. 

In both a lyrical and musical sense, Hanson pulls from Ty Seagull and The Meat Puppets throughout Western Cum, and while more invested lyrics that pull a listener in would elevate this collection, the major musical highlight arrives late. The over ten minute guitar workout "Driving Through Heaven" is a must hear for any fan of adventurous guitar based rock and roll. A clear standout track, the song gallops with power and exciting energy spreading out and layering the six string strums all over the map. 

After this monster tune a come down should be expected, however album closer "Motion Sickness" only starts out reserved before climbing, building, soaring into a major finale that is exhilarating as well. Unassuming vocals, nonsensical lyrics, and some major guitar rock combine to propel Western Cum by Cory Hanson into the sunset.         
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