ShareThis Page

Red Western embraces 'janglier' sound

| Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, 9:00 p.m.
The Red Westerns are (from left) Jay Leon, Jonathan Gunnell, Sean Finn and Lauren DeLorenze.
Benjie Heasley
The Red Westerns are (from left) Jay Leon, Jonathan Gunnell, Sean Finn and Lauren DeLorenze.

The Red Western has been such a consistent presence in the Pittsburgh music scene that it's surprising how much the band's sound has changed.

In fact, it's almost as though there are two Red Westerns out there, haunting the barrooms and clubs of the East End and South Side.

How appropriate, then, that the group has decided to release two EPs simultaneously — “Sirens” and “Arrows” — instead of a single album. The release party for both will be Feb. 6 at the Andy Warhol Museum, North Side.

This town ain't big enough for two Red Westerns, apparently.

“The other Sean (Soisson, original songwriter) left, moved back to Utah,” drummer Sean Finn says. “Jay (Leon) and him set out to be a country band. It's what first came out. But even when he was getting ready to leave the band, there wasn't an overt moving away from country, but it was starting to become more of an indie pop, jangly sort of thing.”

Whether he intended it or not, The Red Western has begun to sound a bit like Finn's old bands, the '90s dream-pop band Manifold Splendour and the later, more complex guitar-driven band Life in Bed.

“Life in Bed was around for like 10 years. ... I kind of stopped playing music and quit the band for like two years. I had booked The Red Western at Lava Lounge, and ... they were looking for a drummer.”

Singer Lauren DeLorenze's clear, winsome singing holds it all together, sometimes alternating (or harmonizing with) guitarist Jonathan Gunnell's voice. In any style, the melodies are way out in front.

This two-short-EPs-instead-of-an-album business is intentional. The songs seemed different enough that splitting them apart made sense. Of course, they're not that different — it's not like one EP was death-metal and the other was opera, or something.

“Jay comes from a power-pop/indie background,” Finn says. “(Songs on ‘Sirens') ‘Away Too Long,' ‘Sixteen,' ‘Mountain Air' — he brought in an idea, and we worked on them together.

“Five of the songs were some that John brought to the band, that he had written years ago. He wanted to try to incorporate more complexity (guitar, rhythms).

“I think there was a little apprehension about going in that direction, but we made the songs into Red Western songs. It was a big move away from alt-country standard that Sean had.”

Michael Machosky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or 412-320-7901.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.

click me