"This is a great effort by David Emerick and current musicians in his camp. The songs are crafty but loose and the players are very tight. It deals with looking back a lot but out of it came a great modern rock result. You get some past, present and a little future here but it’s mostly centered-around getting back to roots and the fact that nostalgia doesn’t discriminate when it comes on strong. It’s about looking for that good stuff. These songs resonate all of the elements that got us here, but with an added depth and texture that dusts off their old-felt edges."
Wonderful 10/10 Review from MusicExistence.com
Kicking off with the mesmerizing “All Hail The Has Beens” is the best way to start the track running order, even though this would fit anywhere on the CD. It seems somehow meld more than one subject that deals with bringing back the once acclaimed. Emerick gets into more than one way to describe the matter, with everything from telling of the REM’s of the day and how they’d fare now and the things they’d endure now compared to then. Some of this is easy to nail and at other times there seems to no figuring things out, which is obviously about those things the listener knows nothing of the inner workings of in the first place. I makes for an interesting opener to say the least, and sparks the other tracks yet to be ignited.
That changes quite considerably from there as effigies are explored on “X Marks The Citizen” which actually deals quite interestingly with society, but weighs just as much in with ideas that tend to make their way via sounding right with the music as well. Both of these elements merge here and more excellent guitar is applied. As can be found on the previous song. And speaking of guitar this has a great rolling riff to drive it. I think this track has a strong David Bowie influence behind it, but then it could be someone who was influenced by him that Emerick picked up on, either way this is a well-balanced track with various styles to shake up the ears.
If that doesn’t float your variety boat, “Western Evaporate” brings a guitar that reminds of bands like The Cure and Robert Smith even gets a nod here. There is a bigger guitar sound crashing over the melodic run that opens the track. It’s really just an influence because nothing is copied but you can tell he likes that band, as it is written all over it. This deals with remnants of relationships, etc. And Emerick shines here as well as anywhere else on this release. While other tracks might have more modern and retro appeal, this one perfectly balances the two. This is a fantastic piece with all the bells and whistles.
This is a decent start to what hopefully brings more out in the future from this project and it comes recommended for that and some of its pleasing familiarity if you looking for that.
4/5 Stars ... Scopemag.com review:
"The guitars are vibrant and stand out more than anything else on these five well-written and recorded songs. Everything finds its due course somewhere on these cuts but it can be deceiving at times because they could all be singles too, really."
Nice review of "Back to the West" by Owen Matheson from Nodepression.com
One of the first things that can be appreciated about this project and Emerick's tendencies as a musician is that he is not afraid to take risks, do things that are a bit strange, or create song structures that are unorthodox and even somewhat unbalanced. The exemplification of Emerick's style and musical brand can be demonstrated from the track layout. Of the five songs on “Back From The West”, the third and the fourth (Evaporate/American Static) are probably the most accessible and straightforward (hesitant to use the term, poppy), while the first, second, and fifth tracks are a little more experimental and original. Normally, it might have been a safer move to lead with the more hooky, accessible tracks instead of the shake-up tunes, but Emerick decided to do the opposite and lead with the challenging tracks. Not only is this very brave, but it should also garner a lot of respect from listeners; here is a musician that is clearly comfortable with his style and knows what sort of messages he wants to communicate. That being said, the lead track, “All Hail The Has Beens” is quite good. Emerick has a unique and tactful approach to melody when it comes to guitar work, his material always has a sense of movement, nothing is ever static and just bumping along to vocals. Throughout songs like “All Hail The Has Beens”, “X Marks The Citizen”, and “The Gospel of Dystopia” listeners will get flashing guitar lines and sprawling melodies that sometimes dare to delve into artistic dissonance. The end result is a very creative and signature play style that puts this album miles above aspiring teenage indie bands that play out of their parent's garage. Tracks one, two, and five will give listeners a good idea of Emerick's more experimental side, but the uniqueness of his instrumentation can even be demonstrated in more straight ahead tracks like “Evaporate”, which has a very fresh and contemplative modal guitar solo. David Emerick as a singer (from a vocal standpoint) and guitarist seems to be a cross between Billy Corgan from The Smashing Pumpkins and Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth.
The music from Champ de Mars really isn't for everybody. Generalizations are never good things to claim, but it may be beneficial to point out that the average person isn't a fan of dissonance in music, which Emerick seems to play with relatively frequently in his melodies. Like most “classic” fringe alternative rock (Sonic Youth), Champ de Mars represents a sound that is pretty much an acquired taste. The semi-whiny vocals, “broken” sounding guitars, strange interludes, and non-linear song structures will probably wear on the average joe somewhat quickly.
“Back From The West” is a collection of five good tunes, provided that listeners are into alternative rock and understand what music like this does. However, even if parts of this album aren't be for everyone, the third and fourth tracks probably have the most universal appeal. It is very likely this material could do well on a college radio station. “Back From The West” is a solid alternative album that will do well provided it gets the right audience.