Pete Krebs is a musical chameleon who fronts a couple of Portland's most popular bands: Hazel, a noisy power trio, and Golden Delicious, a spirited gang of old-timey/bluegrass pranksters. But on Western Electric, Krebs gets serious and shows what a fine songwriter he is. The eleven songs here are all worth digging into, performed with minimal fanfare and accompaniment by Krebs, fellow songwriter Elliott Smith and Golden Delicious bandmate Kevin Richey. Stark, intelligent and somewhere between country, folk and rock, Western Electric showcases Krebs' keen melodic sense, particularly on "One Last Time" and "JFK". At times, the sound here is subtly reminiscent of mid-'80s indie folk-rock (Neats, Feelies, etc.). In fact, Krebs seems to tip his hat to that era and R.E.M. by starting "Purple Heart of Texas" with the line "This letter never sent..."
The mood here is somber -- lost love, lost lives, sin and salvation, all the standard big issues. But it works because Krebs' words and voice ring true throughout. Two tasty instrumentals also give Krebs the chance to show that he is a pretty fair guitar picker.