Despite their residency in the Pine Tree State, Great Western Plain encapsulates those expansive west-of-Mississippi flats that stretch from Texas to Canada in sublime isolation. With their sophomore release Mustache Eye Patch, the Portland trio lets their frustrations loose like a drunken twister in Kansas.
Mustache Eye Patch is a recipe for the perfect cowboy garage rock record, sprinkled with a dash of the abrasive guitar antics and gentle dramatics of early Dinosaur Jr. and seasoned with a country-pop sensibility not unlike the great balladeer Lee Hazelwood. The result is an achingly cathartic and ferociously loud sonic landscape where shrieking guitar feedback and distorted textures bleed through the cracks of each song.
“A. Guthrie Tune” is a pulsating noise-pop standard from steady build up to fuzzed-out close as vocalist Timothy Berrigan hints at romantic cynicism with the line “Tied together/ It’s really cute/ Playing Arlo Guthrie tunes.” Berrigan throws himself into his lyrics like a true drunken balladeer. He is obviously not the most beautiful singer but he is frightfully honest in his drawling delivery, adding a casual yet internally-affected voice to the heavily textured garage crunch of Mustache Eye Patch.
The raw energy of Great Western Plain can be attributed to their roots in Orono, which, quite like the western plains from which they take their name, is a breeding ground for teenage frustration and isolation. Bottled up like whiskey into three young men is the recipe that makes the band explode from out of the listener’s headphones.
In sweeping industrial fashion, “Pyramid Scheme” opens with a dissonant wind storm of guitar feedback and textural beats before exploding into a rolling frenzy of drums perpetrated by ex-Good Kids Sprouting Horns member Anthony Bitetti, while bassist Michael Powers keeps all of the musical elements spinning in order. However there is a minor problem with what is one of Mustache Eye Patch‘s thundering gems: Berrigan utters words that render sentences impossible to decipher, his drawls failing to coalesce amid all the noise.
But, somehow, it doesn’t matter. Great Western Plain is three friends’ effort to have a righteously loud and fun time, perhaps with the aid of moonshine under the night sky. From start to finish, Mustache Eye Patch moves like a tornado across wind-torn plains, effectively and infectiously sucking in all listeners into its twirling spire.