Ex-Slow Season Players Form Westing for Debut Release “Future”
Late in 2021, Slow Season announced they’d become Westing, and that Ben McLeod (also of Nashville’s All Them Witches) was now in the four-piece on lead guitar alongside guitarist, vocalist and keyboardist Daniel Story Rice, bassist Hayden Doyel and drummer/recording engineer Cody Tarbell. Their new LP (fourth overall for RidingEasy), Future, is not coincidentally titled.
Says Rice, “We wanted to hit the reset button on some things and so we included a new band name to that list. Fresh start, for the psychological effect of it. We first met Ben in 2014 opening for All Them Witches in San Diego, and we did that again in 2016 and he and Cody corresponded about tape machines, music production, and other similar nerd stuff. We started swapping a few ideas early in 2021 and then flew him out for four days in August 2021. We got Future mostly down in that short span and did some remote stuff for overdubs, but nothing major. Obviously, our creative processes jelled pretty well to allow for such an efficiently productive session.”
So the story of Westing, and of Future, is about change, but the music makes itself so immediately familiar, it’s so welcoming, that it hardly matters. For about 10 years, the Visalia, California, outfit wandered the earth representing a new generational interpretation of classic heavy rock. The tones, warm. The melodies, sweet. The boogie, infectious. They went to ground after supporting their 2016 self-titled third album, and clearly it was time for something different.
Listening to Future opener “Back in the Twenties,” the message comes through clear (and loud) that however much Westing’s foundations might be in ‘70s styles, the moment that matters is now. It’s the future we’re living in, not the future that was. The big Zeppelin vibes at the outset and on “Big Trouble (In the City of Love)” and the local-bartender remembrance “Stanley Wu,” the dare-to-sound-like-Rocka-Rolla “Lost Riders” and the softshoe-ready shuffle of “Coming Back to Me” that leads into the payoff solo for the entire record, on and on; these pieces feed into an entirety that’s somehow loyal to homage while embodying a vitality that can only live up to the title they’ve given it.
“To me, ‘future’ is a word that embodies both hope and dread,” explains Rice, “and the future seems to be coming at us pretty quick these days. In some ways, it really feels like I am living in “the future,” as if I time traveled here and don’t really belong. That feeling pervades this band’s ethos in some ways. I thought Instagram was a steep climb until I met TikTok.”
Is Future the future? Hell, we should be so lucky. What Westing manifest in these songs is schooled in the rock of yore and theirs purely, and in that, Future looks forward with the benefit of the lessons learned across three prior full-lengths (and the accompanying tours) while offering the kind of freshness that comes with a debut. No, they’re not the same kids who released Mountains in 2014, and the tradeoff is being able to convey maturity, evolving creativity and stage-born dynamic on Future without sacrificing the spirit and passion that has underscored their work all along. – Words by JJ Koczan