Drawn together by a love of americana and alt-country, Lancashire based West On Colfax have been gathering significant exposure – and a number of new fans – on the scene this year, gently footing the foundations for the release of their debut album, ‘Barfly Flew By‘ that was released on Greenhorse Records last month. An impressive mix of melancholic realism and sullen heartache, classic ingredients for any noteworthy roots enthusiast, it’s also an album that will appeal to those who like their americana served up thoughtfully, honestly, and with more than a dash of grit. Americana-UK caught up with bassist and lyricist Scott Carey who, as a key worker, has found lockdown and these last few months particularly stressful and then get a sneak preview of what’s been on his decks making things a little more bearable.
Hey Scott, as is now customary on these Home Life pieces, how’s the lockdown has been treating you?
Well lockdown has been especially challenging. I work for two hospitals in the communications team (in fact all the band are key workers). My day job is a graphic designer, but the pandemic has meant that we have all had to take on extra rolls to make sure that our staff, patients and public are informed in an ever-changing situation. I have never been so busy. To make it more challenging, I’d been going through a very, very long protracted break up of a long-term relationship. So, three weeks before lock down I took a flat a walk down the road. I then became ill and to cope with the stress of all this, I took to drinking. I’m not proud of this. I’m now on an even keel dear reader!
The lyrics I wrote for our album ‘Barfly Flew By‘ were written during this long break up. It wasn’t lost on me, how as men, (we) often tend to deal with their problems by internalisation and self-harm, via the bottle. This particularly is a prevalent recurring theme in Americana music.
So what music have you been playing Scott? Let us know those ‘go to’ albums and tracks that may have made these last few months at least bearable.
‘(Looking For) The Heart of Saturday Night’ – Tom Waits
The don of the barflies. Tom nonchalantly brings you into this world of regret, stumbling, looking for past glories, when you had your arm round your sweetheart, barmaid smiles, it is pure melancholy magic.
‘The Sing’ – Bill Callahan
This is the perfect barfly lyric. Bill’s descriptive power, the pauses in the verses, puts you right there. Then the killer punch line – ‘the only words I said today were beer and thank you’.
‘Boy From The County Hell’ – The Pogues
The Pogues were part of my growing up. This song deals with someone burying bad times in the drink. The lyrics mention the Blueshirts, a fascist party and the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. Shane has a sublime gift for storytelling backed by one super-tight band.
‘Whiskey In My Whiskey’ – The Felice Brothers
Classic country murder ballad. The superb vocal delivery gives us all the heartbreak, the guilt, the sorrow, the drinking to hide it all.
‘Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down’ – Kris Kristofferson
What goes up must come down. The pain in Kris’ voice, you know he’s lived it. The imagery in this song, with the slowly building organ up to a chorus to die for! The lyric ‘there’s something in a Sunday makes the body feel alone’ – ah man, killer!
‘Let’s Hit One More Place’ – Richmond Fontaine
Willy’s another signer that puts you right there. That ‘keep the night going’, you know you’re going to be undone the next day, but this is a tale of trying to recapture a barfly friendship now lost.
‘Drank Like A River’ – Whiskeytown
‘Brown bagging it behind some tavern’ the protagonist returns home (from prison, war?). Wrecked lives, lost love, another casualty drinking to seek solace and the abyss. If you asked me to pick one Americana track to explain the genre to someone, then this would be one I’d consider.
‘Cocktail‘ – Deer Tick
Supported Deer Tick in 2010 a bunch of great people. ‘Who can you turn to when the world is bleeding you dry’ – the answer – ‘the only way out is falling down’. World-weary yet uplifting. Backed by some of the best late-night barroom piano you’ll hear.
‘Me and The Wine and The City Lights‘ – Lee Hazlewood
Lee is the godfather of melancholy. His unique voice has a way of expressing emotion in a matter of fact manner, he’s replaced his love with the city night and wine. Also, I’d kill to get this bass tone – ok not kill but I’d use harsh words, then feel guilty.
‘Yes They Ought To Name A Drink After You’ – John Prine
Save the best till last. Some of the greatest drinking/relationship lyrics ever in this one song. John’s ability to nail the human condition, and his self-deprecation. Ah man, this has to be the worst thing to happen, losing John Prine to COVID-19. He’ll be sorely missed.
West on Colfax debut ‘Barfly Flew By’ is available at westoncolfax.bandcamp.com/