Chicago Hope: Smith Westerns Get Sophomoric

When Chicago garage-rock trio Smith Westerns burst onto the city’s punk scene a year ago, they were still in their late teens, hormone-heavy, and, as frontman Cullen Omori is happy to admit, in it for “the free beer.” They were also good—really good—releasing a basement-spun, ’60s-influenced LP last year with a horny-cum-sock-hop simplicity. Now, the guys are back with their sophomore effort, the soapy, glam-meets-garage album Dye It Blonde (Fat Possum), out January 18th. They’re still talking about girls and lust-born frustrations, but the sound is much larger—and so is their intended audience. “The last album, we definitely made for ourselves— we made it when there was nothing on the line,” says Omori. “But this time we wanted the music to be as epic as possible—really crazy audacious.” More info at