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The Red West begins its migration

Brian Foy | Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Few bands possess the talent and diversity necessary to branch out and play several styles of music on a single album, but that is exactly what The Red West has done on their self-titled debut. The band came together a little more than two years ago, when college roommates Andy Smith and Jayson Belt began collaborating on several songs that would go on to become the bread and butter of their debut album. The nature of some of the tracks made a full band a necessity, so Jayson enlisted the help of his cousin, Ryan Gleason, to play the drums. Subsequently, Matt Bethancourt would be recruited as the bassist and The Red West would be complete.The Red West hails from the Southern California community of Thousand Oaks, and it was there that they began to gain popularity. Their good friend and professional surfer Tim Curran helped support them as they recorded a demo in a home studio. The demo would prove to be the catalyst the band needed to get their sound to the masses. Their relationship with Curran allowed The Red West to find their niche in the Southern California surf scene and land them on numerous surf soundtracks, as well as the WB’s summer reality series Boarding House: North Shore.Although The Red West might conjure up images of surfing and the Southern California coast, they are anything but your stale traditional surf music. The boys of The Red West have managed to create a depth of sound and emotion that is as close to the Beach Boys sound as Siberia is to San Diego. On The Red West’s debut album, they evoke memories of everything from Jack Johnson to Dispatch. The self-titled disc is the work of a band that has the ability to mesh different genres of music together and create musical anthology rather than a feeble attempt at musical harmony.The Red West excels in a few areas, but none more so than their accessibility and familiarity. The band’s sound is not groundbreaking or revolutionary, but it works because it does not have to be. Songs like the disc’s second track, “Don’t Fall In,” are comforting because they contain sounds similar to ones we may have heard before. However, The Red West’s ability to transcend what makes us feel comfortable – by using a myriad of sounds – allows them to succeed where others fail. The best song on the album might be the one that made Smith and Belt realize they needed a full band to achieve the full potential of their work. “Crazy Cold” is a hybrid of quick acoustic picking and power chord rock that sets the bar high for the band’s sophomore release. It is this song that stands out from the rest because it sounds more unique than any other track on the album.The Red West is not reinventing the wheel with its self-titled debut album, but it doesn’t have to for the record to have quality or for it to be deemed a success. The band’s first attempt shows that The Red West is clearly capable of having a positive future. As the band travels away from its musical influences toward its own sound, the songs will gain more depth and uniqueness. If this happens, The Red West will spread east to new horizons.

Contact Brian Foy at bfoy@nd.edu