A Country Western is a break from the numbness of the world. Their new album, birdfeeder, released via The Cooked Raw Label, is poignant and painful and forces you to feel. The follow-up to their 2020 debut, the record is simultaneously crushing and cathartic. 

The album is dedicated to the memory of Matt Miades, father of the band’s drummer Garrett Miades, who encouraged the band to make music from the very beginning.

“My dad was a supporter of our music since we started screwing around in the 8th grade,” Miades said. “He taught us how to absorb music, showed us countless amazing artists, and was always willing to give demos a listen. I personally attribute nearly all of my interest in music to my dad, and I’m damn near certain that the same influence touched Derek (vocals/guitar) as well.”

Those years of practice are automatically evident in the stunning skills the band boosts on birdfeeder. They create this spellbinding slowcore sound that you want to sink into. Through layering gauzy and gossamer instrumentals they create a blinding haze. It’s heavy and hard to decipher, sometimes so thick with feeling that it verges on debilitating. 

While the vocals are buried under a deluge of fuzz, they’re still transfixing. With a mix of cryptic imagery and disarming detail, the album is intimate at a distance. There’s this sense of sorrow that makes mundane things like losing your phone feel devastating. Even when their language is veiled and vague, there’s this crippling grief that comes through. It feels like shrugged shoulders and a dull acceptance, like when you’re so stuck it doesn’t seem worth trying to get out from whatever is holding you down. 

This weight is central to the album and apparent even in their instrumental tracks. On “Womb,” A Country Western drops you into a disconcerting scene with police sirens blaring and distant conversation. A moment of sheer dissociation it feels like you’re disappearing. The opening track, “Just” has the same on-edge feeling with its opaque percussion and a gentle fade. 

While it’s tempting to surrender to the comfort of suffering at the end of the album, ACW seems to be hesitantly seeking out light. As Miades half-mumbles the last lines, “hear the phone ring, pick it up / rush downstairs, I’ve had enough / run inside give them a hug / trying not to give up” something lifts. A moment of spontaneous healing, it’s a slight glimmer of hope. 

You can stream birdfeeder below and catch A Country Western at PhilaMOCA on October 1.