On The Clearlake Conspiracy, the recently released debut album by his new band Western Terrestrials, Charyk unapologetically lays bare the artists who conspired to inspire him. In fact, most of them show up in the span of a single song: "WWWJD (What Would Waylon Jennings Do?)"
The tune is a dead-on pastiche of the late Jennings' own cheeky nod to bygone honky-tonk heroes, "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?"... Jennings isn't around to browbeat modern pop-country acts like Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line, so Charyk does the honors himself. "Today's country singers, they worship their heroes, they say," he sings with a punch-drunk snarl. "But can you tell me with a straight face that ol' Waylon woulda done it this way?"
But over the course of The Clearlake Conspiracy's nine songs, Charyk and co. — including Pariah Beat's entire rhythm section — do deliver a rowdy and entertaining spin on honky-tonk that should satisfy country purists and progressives alike by hewing to sonic traditions and writing with modern sensibilities.
For over a decade now, Pariah Beat had been one of my favorite Vermont based acts. When that act dissolved, bandleader Nick Charyk has embarked on a new project, an outlaw country / honky tonk act dubbed Western Terrestrials. The band has an axe to grind against pop-country, much in the way of Hank III without the rudeness, and being that I share this sentiment, I’m all in for the WT’s authentic sound that pays homage to the likes of Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams, George Jones and other icons of “real” country music. They recently went down to Nashville to record their debut release ‘The Clearlake Conspiracy’ at the famed Cinderella Studio’s, an experience that steeped the band even further in the roots sound they are purveying in.
- Ed Dufresne, Barre-Montpelier Times-Argus
"Following up the black hole for our collective attention that was her Bangerz phase, Miley Cyrus returned to her country roots for her next album, Younger Now, in 2017. Though obviously risky from a marketing standpoint, the pop star reasoned that she could connect with, and hopefully deprogram, conservative listeners if she approached them in a familiar, comforting persona.
Younger Now kinda tanked, and if it inspired a significant number of chuds to repent and burn their MAGA hats, we’ll probably never know. But if this era rejects a once unstoppable cultural force like Miley Cyrus the second she puts on a cowboy hat and makes her guitars go “twang,” then “Old Town Road” is the rule’s inevitable exception and it’s a perilous time to be a weirdo who plays country music.
Probably, Western Terrestrials already know all this, but they’re playing country music anyway. Nick Charyk is a terrifying nihilist who does not value prosperity, happiness, or his own personal safety, so speculating on his motivations is a complete waste of time. As for the rest of the group, let us suppose they’re doing this ‘cos it’s fun, and have channeled their personal enjoyment into The Clearwater Conspiracy for the world’s collective merriment. It ain’t a glossy production, it definitely ain’t available at WalMart, but it is melancholic, gritty, and appropriately enough, very much in the spirit of what Waylon Jennings would do."
- Barry Thompson, Boston Area Music Critic