Founded by The Weight’s and Gentleman Jesse’s Joseph Plunket (guitar, vocals) and Silver Jews‘ Brian Kotzur (drums), who also started in Harmony Korine’s critically applauded film Trash Humpers with State Champion‘s Sabrina Rush (bass), the rising Nashville-based trio Country Westerns can trace their origins to when the then Brooklyn-based Plunket relocated to Nashville, where he founded Duke’s, the sister bar to my beloved Clem’s. Although Nashville has a long-held reputation for teeming with solo artists and hired guns, Plunket met Kotzur, and the pair bonded over their mutual desire to be in an actual band.
Throughout 2016, Plunket and Kotzur spent their time in Kotzur’s garage writing material and tracking demos, eventually honing their sound. With the encouragement of their friends, they began looking for the band’s third member. Playing with a number of different lineups including Bully’s Reece Lazarus, who played on some of their earliest material, Plunket’s and Kotzur’s friend Sabrina Rush joined the band, completing their lineup after a series of lineup shuffles. Best known as a violinist and member of Louisville, KY’s State Champion, Rush had never played bass until that point; but bass came naturally to her, and Plunket and Kotzur quickly realized that her harmonic bass lines managed to perfectly flesh out their sound.
The first recordings with the band’s current lineup were recorded in Nashville with engineer Andrija Tokic, but the band was soon convinced to leave Nashville to record a couple of songs with Matt Sweeney at Brooklyn’s Strange Weather Studios with Daniel Schlett. Interestingly, the Sweeney-produced material caught the attention of Fat Possum Records, who signed the band during a brief break in the recording sessions.
Slated for a May 1, 2020 release, the band’s self-titled debut album reportedly finds the band playing with a bigger sound than what one would expect for a trio. Interestingly, the album’s first single “Gentle Soul,” which features a jangling guitar riff, Plunket’s raspy and growling vocals, a insistent and propulsive rhythm section and an enormous finds the band’s sound leaning heavily towards Document-era R.E.M. and 80s John Mellencamp: earnest lyrics, inspired by and written from hard-fought and harder-won experience paired with ambitious and accessible songwriting.