Had this one in the dock a little while, but the end of year onslaught always gets in the reviews backed up. No time like the new year to shed a bit of light here. Anti-Westerns are a side project, or more succinctly, an alter-ego of Plates of Cake. The foundations of the band are built on the same solid footing of rivet-tight indie, but his time they trade Brooklyn bars for Nashville skies, adding a large dose of twang to their sound and letting the tempos lope a bit more than they used to. While the dust-plastered settings are pulled into frame behind a rusted pickup truck, the bulk of the album finds the songwriters waxing nostalgic about aging, drinking, and settling into love for the long haul. Quite a few of the songs hit like a hangover after years of moderation, the lacquered taste of whiskey in the gums and regret hanging hard in the stomach.

The band wears country fairly well, though, feeling just a bit like their western collars might be a bit too under-rumpled for the rest of the regulars of the bars they’re frequenting, but the homage rings sincere. They eschew the cosmic vein, swinging slightly more First National Band than New Riders, opting for more of a bumpy road pacing and coordinated guitar dips to the crowd. But just like Mike Nesmith setting himself off from his own past, Anti-Westerns have done their homework, seeming to revel in imagining themselves waking up outside of Townes’ trailer with a head full of half-truths and one liners from the night before. They hang a tale of creaking knees and doctor’s chiding with a crooked smile and a tip of the hat then turn around and rave up a shout-along love letter to rough edged gals with the kind of hook that hits like a bottle against chicken wire. No clue if this one is a one off or the start of the next chapter, but its a winter warmer that starts the year off right.

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