The emo kids have finally found country, and it makes complete sense. Both genres – though seemingly disparate – intersect in their pursuit of the truth. Underneath the rhinestone luster, classic country music is trying to make you uncomfortable. Pinegrove made this marriage palatable to the blogosphere, by injecting pop-punk sing-alongs with tenuous country twang. But they did this from the sequestered, east coast vantage point of Montclair, New Jersey.
The gang in Boise, ID's Western Daughter live it. Like early Modest Mouse or Mt. Eerie, Western Daughter's music feels heavily informed by – and inextricable from – its environment. In this case, the secretly beautiful Idaho – a state that wrongheadedly promotes its potatoes instead of its swaths of rugged, unspoiled wilderness. It's tempting to say that the Western Daughter LP, Driftwood Songs, is a "bigger" record – the group have expanded their sonic palette considerably. Songs like opener "Skinny Water" and "Pillars of Salt" are buoyant indie rock anthems that highlight the band's punk heritage.
But Western Daughter have managed to make a more "commercial" record without forsaking the homespun charm and signature forlornness that made their early work so raw and alluring. This is best exemplified by tracks like the country-flecked "Busy, Busy, Busy" and slow-burning closer "Control," which bridge this gap seamlessly. It's territory that may not have been blazed by Western Daughter, but their unique perspective and commitment to honesty above everything else – a trait they share with both their country and emo forebears – make them invaluable occupants.