Nik and the Central Plains' new CD draws from far, wide
Nik Westman is a straightforward guy, not one to embellish his credentials. But past press reports have misinterpreted some of his statements; notably that he was heavily influenced by Indian music, and that he wrote a book about the cuisine of the central plains of Pennsylvania. Neither is true.
"There's so much misinformation," Westman says with laugh.
What's not at all questionable is Westman's talent. His band, Nik and the Central Plains, will release its new CD, "Walk on Beaches," with shows Friday and Saturday at the Thunderbird Cafe in Lawrenceville.
Westman describes the music as "straight-up, three-piece, garage folk rock." That might be technically accurate, but mere words don't do justice to the sweep of the music. Think Calexico by way of Camper Van Beethoven, with elements of Wilco, Crazy Horse and Steve Wynn and the Miracles, and you'll start to approximate the band's sound.
But only start.
Westman, 28, of Aspinwall, released an eponymously titled album with bandmates Kraig Decker (bass) and Colin Bronnenkant (drums) in 2010. "Nik and the Central Plains" was merely "a collection of songs," he says. "This one is the band. This is the guys I've been playing with for three years. It's more representative of the band. The last one wasn't really what we sound like."
Each song on "Walk on Beaches" is fleshed out with small touches. The spare, acoustic "Kickin' Leaves" is augmented by slide guitar and chimes. "Arctic Dance" starts with a frenetic blare before segueing into a hypnotic maze of mellow guitar rock. "Paul and Jen," the closest Westman gets to a pop song, is leavened by the accordion of Ross Raider. Other guest musicians, including vocalist and violinist Sara Siplak and guitarist Tom Demagall, add texture throughout.
Westman isn't quite sure where his musical diversity comes from. Born in Sweden, he lived in Los Angeles until he graduated from high school and moved to Pittsburgh.
"I also lived in Hawaii for a year and I got into a lot of drumming," he says. "I was around a lot of island jams. And I'm a skateboarder, so, watching a lot of skating videos, you get into a lot of different styles."
If there's a mood that best describes "Walk on Beaches," it's manic. Westman draws mostly from his own experiences for material, as in the semi-autobiographical title song, which is punctuated with flourishes of trumpet and vocals reminiscent of David Byrne's.
"When I listen to (the album), there are a lot of suggestions that people are crazy," Westman says. "It deals a lot with people's emotions."Additional Information:
Nik and the Central Plains CD release shows
With: Harlan Twins, Chet Vincent & Big Bend on Friday; Meeting of Important People and Boca Chica on Saturday
When: 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Where: Thunderbird Cafe, Lawrenceville
Details: 412-682-0177 or website
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Man fatally stabbed in Braddock Hills
- NASA head tells Pitt grads their generation will ‘walk the face of Mars’
- Aftershocks terrify survivors of quake in Nepal that killed 2,500
- Rossi: Penguins’ best bet is on Martin
- Spirit Airlines lifts fortunes of Arnold Palmer Regional Airport
- Young defensemen make case for future with Penguins
- Rossi: Crosby, Malkin didn’t sign on for this
- From injuries to front office, Penguins’ season didn’t lack drama
- Fire caused $75,000 in damage to Beltzhoover playground
- Crews battle 5-alarm fire at North Union industrial building
- High risk, reward with 1st-round quarterbacks in NFL Draft