The Far West
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The Far West

Los Angeles, California, United States

Los Angeles, California, United States
Band Americana Country




"Album Rreview"

“This town has made me, bitter, drunk, and cold,” is the opening track and line of The Far West’s debut CD. It’s a great start to an album that is solid from start to finish. It defines what LA country music is about. It starts by referencing the city in itself, and the always-popular topic of drinking. It’s a witty track to start out on a good note.

The next song, “Nothing Like You,” is a danceable song remembering an ex-lover. A violin solo hits during the middle of the song and soars. As I write about the song, I look to my feet, and I can see my right bobbing left to right. “If I ever love again, it will be with someone true, cause the next one, will be nothing like you.” This ends the song on a high note and transitions smoothly into the steel guitar heavy “Best Company Misery Ever Had.” A slower, classic county influenced tune, referring back to that ex-lover.

The album continues with steel guitar powered songs and Lee’s voice and songwriting carrying the load. His voice resonates like Dylan’s, and his song writing is simple and heartfelt like many great county songs. The songs are written and performed in the simple way that makes country music as great as it is. I hear many Johnny Cash-like drums throughout the album. “Bound To Lose” is a great example of this. The seventh track on the album is a good little tune I could see being put on repeat during a spur-of-the-moment road trip. Even though the title clearly references failure, there is something about it, something that makes you want to fight through it. “I left New York, crossed that LA county line,” like the many artists in the scene here, they come from elsewhere. They came here to say the things they want to say, only with that country twang.

The album ends with “Good Lord Willing,” and “What’s Done is Done.” “Good Lord Willing” is a Johnny Cash song, with that train-sounding steel guitar creeping up off in the distance. “What’s Done is Done,” ends the album on a great note. The slower, rim-tapping song with the steel, yet again, shining through. “Because what’s done, is done,” is the last line on the album, and how fitting it is. It leaves you with no question.

The Far West put together a solid album that I recommend to classic country lovers. - LA Country Music

"The Far West Review"

I'm probably the least-qualified person to review country music. I grew up in the Northeast and the majority of my exposure to country has been to 1990s/2000s/2010s mainstream artists, most of whom I consider to be nauseatingly awful.

However, as with most genres with a mainstream scene, there is an equally vibrant counter-scene. In the 1960s and 1970s, it was called "outlaw country," comprised of artists like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Townes Van Zandt. It grew out of the revolutionary spirit of that time, pursued by artists who wanted to write their own music, in their own way, and without influence of a recording label. By the 1990s, it went by the name alternative country, insurgent country, or just Americana. Uncle Tupelo's No Depression [1990] was a seminal LP at this time, giving rise to the magazine of the same name. Whatever you call it, this counter-country is often characterized by a lo-fi rock & roll aesthetic, a strong punk influence, and a level of authenticity not found in the Nashville scene. It's a side of country (hell, music in general) that actually feels genuine.

Do I still have your attention? If so, then the Far West may be just what you're looking for. As I said, aside from a superficial knowledge of the history above, I'm probably the worst person to be talking about country music. But I can at least say this: The Far West sent me their album weeks ago, and I've been enjoying it so much I almost completely forgot to review it.

If you like any of the artists listed above, you'll find something to love in the Far West. Together, Lee Briante, Robert Black, Erik Kristiansen, and Tony Sanborn channel the spirit of that traditional country sound. Their debut album was recorded live-to-tape in a local California-area American Legion post, and is being released independently. While the Far West formed in 2010, the band sounds like it's been playing together for years. The individual members are all veteran musicians, with considerable experience in several previous bands. And with the combination of their tight sound and great storytelling, it's really no surprise.

And oh, what great storytelling it is. Songwriters Briante and Black are masters of weaving genuinely gut-wrenching tales of broken hearts and shattered love, as in "I'll Keep the Bed Warm" (I'll keep the bed warm, baby / Whether or not you're coming home / I'd rather lie here thinking "maybe" / Than lie here thinking I'll be all alone); or "Maricopa City Lights" (She's the kind of girl you dream of / In the spaces in between love / When you let yourself think, there's still something good).

There are almost too many good songs to list here, but other standouts include the dark, self-deprecating humor of "Bitter, Drunk & Cold," the weary "Tears on the Pillowcase Again," or the more upbeat "Nothing Like You" and "Bound to Lose." - Given & Taken in Ink


Still working on that hot first release.



The Far West came together in early 2010, each member having left other bands to pursue a unique sound they weren't getting elsewhere. Robert Black, hailing from Texas has played in dozens of bands from the plains all the way to the coasts (in both directions). In his Texas days he backed a number of bands in all day BBQ hoedowns and late night jam sessions. He even had a band share a bill with Townes Van Zandt. In Los Angeles, after working as a session bassist for several LA bands like Leslie & The Badgers, West of Texas & many others he discovered that Tony Sanborn, an old friend and drummer of The Last Americans was free. Tony Sanborn grew up in Eagle Rock and has been honing his drumming chops since an early age. Tony has traveled the country playing everything from Americana to Jazz to Zydeco. Tony's kept the beat going for more bands then he can remember, and notes gigging along side Ryan Bingham, and The Derailers as high points. Singer Lee Briante comes from the fertile Hudson Valley of NY, by way of the rolling hills of Western Mass. His parents instilled a deep love of music in him from a very early age, taking him to see a wide variety of music like Arlo, Pete Seegar, Charlie Daniels and many others. Memories of rowdy irish bands burning through bow rosin in low ceiling riverside taverns stand out in his mind. Lee has been playing in bands since he was 15 or so, among others he played in the Northampton, MA ambient band paris., the Boston band 1986 and the LA based Queen Victoria. Ready to start a project of his own he made contact with Robert Black by posting a simple craigslist ad that consisted of nothing more then a Waylon Jennings video. The last piece, and a critical one, was finding a pedal steel player worth his weight, and one that could switch between Tele & pedal steel taboot. Erik 'the kidd' Kristiansen was just the man, having played with a number of bands since he was in his teens. Erik has played the dive bars of the Lower East Side, the honkey tonks of Louisiana, and the chateaus of Sweden's Alt-Country scene. He has recorded with Ryan Adams on the mythical 'SnowKobra' record, Heavenly Blues, The Dark Horses and many more.

Once The Far West came together they got right to work, gigging all across Southern California in places like The Echo, Cowboy Palace Saloon, Taix, Silverlake Lounge & many more. By December 2010 they were ready to record over 15 original songs and headed down to Encinitas, where the American Legion Post 416 had become a familiar venue to them. The crew at the legion opened up the doors to the band, and over 3 days The Far West recorded their originals with he help of Engineer/ Producer Colin Mclean. Done live-to-tape with minimal overdubs this record captures the live energy and beautiful tone of the Legion Post. The boys have been gigging ever since, making stops at the 2011 SXSW festival in Austin & countless jukejoints across the southwest. They're proud to share stages with their contemporaries like Mike Stinson, Brennan Leigh, Broken Numbers Band, David Serby, The Americans, Tony Gilkyson & many others.