THE WESTERN CIVILIZATION - Fractions of a Whole (2024)

Reggie O'Farrell and Rachel Hansbro met while playing in separate bands in Houston's music scene, and they built a solid connection. Their creative collaboration would result in two albums, multiple festival appearances including the Vans Warped Tour, SXSW, and the Halifax Pop Explosion, and, most importantly, a long-lasting artistic union that would withstand the two eventually living in different cities, career changes, a major medical episode, and one very cramped tour. John Boyd (Drums) Bob Lane (Bass, Trumpet, Aux Percussion) Angie Holliday (Vocals, Keys, Acoustic Guitar) complete The Western Civilization.

Their new album "Fractions of a Whole" was recorded mostly at Reggie's home studio in Austin, TX. Some additional tracking was done at Club Sound Machine in Austin, TX. “The new songs were inspired by the amazing people who are part of my chosen family,” Hansbro reflects. “Reggie has always been good at reminding me of the positive things. (He is) another voice saying ‘Hey, it’s going to be okay.’

The album is comprised of 10 songs for 42 minutes of music. "Noctambulism" opens the work with a delicate piano and relaxed vocals. In its ups and downs and change of mood, the song reminds me of Blackfield (a beautiful project by Steven Wilson) and it's a great opener, very intense. More upbeat, but sort of melancholy is "Stitches" with the voices of the two singers perfectly blending together. The band wrote about "Bible verses for kids": "This song deals heavily with gender equality issues within the church and conservative America as a whole. Its melody is loosely based off “Jesus Loves the Little Children” which, in case you haven’t heard it, is a blatantly racist song that I (Rachel) sang as a kid at Vacation Bible School. A real kids’ bop, ya know. The more I attended therapy and worked on unpacking the shame and guilt of not living up to the standards of good Christian womanhood, the more I felt compelled to write about it." I really like the drumming and the lively arrangement on this one. 

'If You're Lucky' "is about the pains, anxieties, and confusion of just trying to be a decent human that exists on a dying planet and how life has a habit of kicking you into the dirt over and over again but we just have to keep picking yourself back up and trying again. It’s also about finding the strength to be OK with the fact that you’re never going to be perfect no matter how hard you try. The important part is that you try and remember to give yourself a little grace along the way" has a country feel, is very upbeat and I find it overall very enjoyable and with the usual quality arrangement, peculiar, this time, with electronic sounds - almost listening to a country version of Muse.

I like the atmosphere, the drumming (what a sound!) and the vocals of "Fool". The band shared a fun anecdote about the song: "When we were working on the demo for "Fool", Reggie was trying to get our drummer at the time (Anthony) to do something odd/interesting with the drums in the verse but he couldn't quite articulate what he was hearing. We made him do probably 30+ takes of the song. Finally in a fit of frustration and an attempt to mock what Reggie was asking for, he played the most disjointed ridiculous thing he could come up with. Reggie jumped up and yelled, "That's it! Perfect!". Anthony was like... "are you f.... kidding me?!?", threw his sticks and walked out of the room. Priceless"

Among the other songs, I like the acoustic riff of "My Mess", the modern and fast-paced "The Snake and the Saint", the happy mood of "The Ocean's on the Rise" and the relaxed vibes of the closing track "Proselytism".

"Fractions of a Whole" is a quality album, amazingly performed and produced and with spectacular arrangements, never banal. Give it a go by clicking on the Spotify player below and remember to follow The Western Civilization on social media.
Giovanni Gagliano

Passionate about music I wrote my first article for "Given To Rock" in 2012, reaching now 30K global followers. I am also a musician, gigging around London.

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