Home Hear Now Hear This: The Western Civilization | Fractions Of A Whole

Now Hear This: The Western Civilization | Fractions Of A Whole

The Texas indie-rockers dig deeper & soar higher on this graceful sophomore set.

The Western Civilization get it together beautifully on their richly rewarding sophomore, wholly immersive album Fractions Of A Whole — showcasing today on Tinnitist.

Chemistry, it is said, is the key driving force of all great bands. And this Texas indie-rock band has a creative connection that has inspired them to beat odds that would seem insurmountable to most, while creating captivating, well-crafted music like this dramatically dreamy outing.

Reggie O’Farrell and Rachel Hansbro met while in separate Houston bands in 2002, and a friendship developed between the two. Their creative partnership has now produced a pair of albums, appearances at festivals like Vans Warped Tour, SXSW and Halifax Pop Explosion — and most importantly, a lasting artistic union that would survive separation, career changes, a major medical episode and one very cramped tour. Hansbro laughs, “If you can walk away from three weeks in a Geo Metro and still be friends with someone, that means something.”

The Western Civilization’s first album Letters of Resignation boasted a heartfelt quality that, combined with the intertwined vocals of Hansbro and O’Farrell, created a sound that fans of Arcade Fire, Bright Eyes and Broken Social Scene could appreciate. The new album Fractions Of A Whole reveals a new maturity, with a lusher production style and a focus on cohesive, graceful songcraft over the endearingly quirky elements that dominated their earlier work. The songs, while gut-wrenching, still hold on to the hope of the light at the end of the tunnel, with songwriting that brings to mind a more lyrically biting Death Cab For Cutie or The Shins and Modest Mouse’s finer moments. Listen with Kleenex on hand.

“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 OK.’ ” This optimism amidst the chaos of the world we live in is evident in the rich and buoyant sound of Fractions, of which a handful of warmly received singles have been released in anticipation of the album.

While the album’s singles were making their way out into the world, Hansbro began to realize that something was wrong. She couldn’t keep food down, she lost weight and her body began to shut down. She recalls struggling to get through shows and her frustration when doctors couldn’t determine the cause. Eventually, she found a doctor in her hometown of Houston who diagnosed her with achalasia, a rare disorder that makes it difficult to eat or drink, and that doctor just happened to be the one who had perfected a procedure to correct the life-threatening issue. Healthy again, the harrowing experience has given Hansbro a new drive and determination in approaching the band’s music. “I can’t wait to get onstage and play again,” she asserts with a smile. “I wrote a lot of songs on Fractions Of A Whole as letters of gratitude to friends who always showed up for me during tough times,” she continues. “Those same friends showed up for me when I was sick, reminding me not to lose hope.”

Of their unique relationship, it’s clear what drives the pair to stay dedicated to the band, despite the fact that O’Farrell lives in Austin (where he works as a producer and sound engineer) and Hansbro resides in Houston (where she has developed her own business as a music teacher working with nonprofits): Mutual respect, belief in their music and the way they inspire each other. “I know she trusts me and it frees me to try anything, he explains. And of O’ Farrell, Hasbro says, “I trust few things in life, but I trust him.”

Listen to Fractions Of A Whole below and find Western Civilization on their website, Instagram and Facebook.


Photo by Jack Potts.