Portland, Oregon three-piece rock outfit West of Central formed in back in 2009 by members Brian O'Connor and Trey Stockard with Von Kairos joining the band in 2015. Between their busy lives that include jobs and families these guys have been bouncing around songs for the past nine years and they have finally all come together on their record Tipped with the Tide.
The record opens with the slow rock song “Welcome the Strange” which is a layered and lo-fi sort of woozy song that sounds washed in guitars that just keep reverberating off of one another and shimmering drum parts. This song sort of sets the tone for the rest of the record which will be a twelve-song ride of songs that run the gamut from high epic rock style songs to slower and more mellow jams.
The song “My Left Arm” is a good example of this meandering rock of guitars that suddenly splits into a harder edged sort of rock and then back. The vocals are hidden behind some fuzz, too much fuzz and the song soon turns what sounds like what one hears outside of a band’s practice space with the door closed. “Time 306” is a song on which the band seem to not be able to make up their minds as to what kind of song it should be; hard rock or soft rock.
However later on “High Montana Plains” a highlight of the record, the band makes better use of this soft and loud motif and the washed out vocals blend together much better with this style of guitar-centric rock. Next on “Lye, Lye, Lye” this quietus of soft guitar rock really works in their favor. However the band seemed to think that they needed to add some big heavy lift of rock and change the song which I thought was unnecessary. However to their credit later on “Spring” they do it quite well and it works out in their favor, and also the listeners.
The looming issue to some of the songs on Tipped With the Tide is that they have been (some perhaps but not all) sitting around for too long. I find a lot of bands do this, try to write new songs and put them alongside old ones. Sometimes it works but often it doesn’t. It shouldn’t. Musicians like all artists need to learn and grow and fail. One shouldn’t be sentimental about old work. It harbors one from moving forward.
That being said Tipped With the Tide has plenty to appreciate that fans of rock should take a listen to. Recommended.
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