West of Rome's sound is prairie-wind howl, harnessed and ground through post punk machinery. Their sweet vocal harmonies and irony-free approach recall the Topanga Canyon sounds of the early '70s--minus the Nudie suits, six shooters and Bruce Berry. Like the bastard children of Patti Smith and Neil Young, West of Rome delves deep into the American songbook and plays with images, sounds and messages both vintage and vanguard.
The band's first record, "Cranberry Sauce," (2001) won notice and praise from critics, musicians and fans alike. One musician who noticed was Jay Bennett, the former Wilco avatar who signed on to produce West of Rome's sophomore effort. The result was 2005's "Drunk Tank Decoy." a sonic landscape of lush Americana that raised the band's profile with national radio play, and attention from CMJ's college radio charts and Magnet Magazine. West of Rome's EP, "School and Books and Trains and Leaving" is quite a departure. Recorded in a mere 24 hours, the 7-song disc is a stripped down and raw document, direct, loud and intimate all at the same time. Recorded in marvelous analog!
West of Rome is Marc Alberts on vocals and keyboards, Andrew Beaumont on drums, Tom Cox on bass and Chris DeMay on vocals and guitars. Terminal post punks and metal heads, former trout farmer DeMay and journalist Alberts joined mutual friend and champion pinochle player Cox to form West of Rome in 1998. All three are Chicago-area natives and survivors of an earlier Midwest college indie-music scene. Beaumont, a North Dakota native and former rodeo clown, joined the band in 1999. The band spends time between recording and honing its live sound to a cutting edge by missing work, not sleeping enough, drinking and smoking, not eating well and fighting crime in all its nefarious guises.
With a stage show that lives up to the passion and professionalism of its recorded work, West of Rome is a band of original songwriting and musicianship - emotionally honest rock for people who still believe (despite distressing evidence) in substance over style.