West Coast Town by Chris Shiflett on Side One Dummy Records
Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
Chris Shiflett has had a pretty good career. He plays with the Foo Fighters and Me First And The Gimme Gimmes. He was in the San Francisco punk band No Use For A Name. A pretty solid resume, thus far. The million dollar question is can he play convincing country music? The million dollar answer is yes. West Coast Town is Shiflett’s follow up to the 2013 release All Head And No Cattle by Chris Shiflett & The Dead Peasants. This album is not as honky tonk as the latter, but still plenty country and plenty good.
This album is twangy and gritty and has a lot of angst. It is angry and chock full full of attitude. The guitars are loud and noisy yet still within the country umbrella. No song displays this energy better than Still Better Days (Track 10). This sounds like a cross between Soul Asylum and Lynyrd Skynyrd. The vocals are soft and melodic, while the guitar is pure southern rock from a long gone era.
West Coast Town (Track 2) starts off like a John Hiatt or Steve Earle song. It is pretty much straight roots rock. It’s those great twang guitar accents to let you know that you are not listening to punk rock. This is country and it’s damn good. This is a very catchy song that I can see getting some attention, other than the fact that there is a few “f: words in this song. Nothing a little beep can’t fix.
West Coast Town contains some nice ballads,Blow Out The Candles (Track 6)being one of them. Another straight ahead Americana song with some muscle and pedal steel. A really great song that is the quintessential alt-country number. If there was any doubt if Shiflett could make the jump from punk and rock and roll to a countrified genre, this song should put any doubt to rest.
This is a very fine offering from Chris Shiflett and proves that sometimes “side projects” can yield great results. Shiflett seems to have the total package together: writing, singing, and playing. Who said this guy is one dimensional? Not me, that’s for sure. Chris Shiflett has more dimensions than Star Trek.