Why Westelaken Rules by Chris Worden
In terms of overall feel, the ground Westelaken is treading is a sort of weird country terrain that is hard to map in detail, so I’ll try to keep it vague: the Westelaken vibe is, in my opinion, very October/November. Sonically, I’d say their colour palette is “deep autumn,” but please do not quote me on that, as I don’t actually know what the hell I’m talking about in that regard. It just sounds right when I say it out loud: “Westelaken? Oh, yeah… deep autumn. No doubt whatsoever. I say this with absolute certainty.” It seems good. It feels correct.
I suppose I could be a little more precise in discussing what I like about them, though – talk about the lyrics and music a bit more, etc. In that vein, I’ll say that I am generally pretty hard to please where lyrics are concerned, but surely none who listen could deny the plain fact that they know how to turn a phrase or two over at Westelaken. I think it would even be fair to call the lyrics “evocative.” Same with the music, for that matter. They really do build an atmosphere. That’s how I settled on the whole “deep autumn” thing I said above, actually – it’s just that classic “deep autumn”* atmosphere.
If you want to check my math and see if you get the same vibe I think I’m getting, you could start with a tune of theirs by the name of “There, Theresa.” I’ve listened to that one enough times that I am not willing to specify the actual number here because I think it might be unacceptably high. It’s very good – good enough to warrant [redacted] listens. I think it’s among my very favourite songs by any Toronto band in recent memory. Keep in mind that they have a good deal of variation in their sound, though. You’ll want to take a few other songs for a test run to get a real feel for what you might see at the show. Sometimes, I even feel like they occupy a point precisely halfway between Handsome Ned and Swell Maps. That’s a fabulous place to be.
You know, this is the third one of these I’ve written for Kazoo!. The other two were about artists I knew quite well. Westelaken, though… well, I still don’t know a whole lot about Westelaken. Very mysterious to me, these Westelaken fellers. That’s part of the reason that this write-up is the way it is, I guess. Heck, until performing on a bill with them this past July, I didn’t know of them at all. All I know now is that they’re from Toronto, they’re a delight, and they seem to be playing a bit more frequently than they were (?), which is good news! When I saw them play, they made a real impression on me, and they’ll do the same for you if you catch them at Kazoo!.
Chris Worden is a musician who performs with a variety of projects including Natural Thirst and Bile Sister, and is also currently working on his PhD in sociology at the University of Guelph. He was a co-founder and programmer at Electric Eclectics from 2006 to 2018, and is currently a member of the Kazoo! Fest Board of Directors.