Sandy Kim
SMITH WESTERNS have been making big noise since they were little kids. The indie-rock trio of Cameron Omori, Max Kakacek and Cullen Omori (above, from left) began in high school as a garage outfit in their native Chicago. With its members now in their early 20s, the group has made a major leap with its third record, Soft Will (Mom + Pop, $14), which takes the band’s sound in new directions. Singer Cullen Omori talks about the artists and songs that influenced the LP.

ROXY MUSIC, “More Than This” (1982)
“I became more of a Roxy fan in the process of making this album. Bryan Ferry’s voice is great. For a long time, I wanted to sing in this manly rock voice. But Roxy proves that you don’t always have to be belting it out — that you can have just as much impact singing in a softer voice.”

ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK, “(Forever) Live and Die” (1986)
“As we were recording, we wanted to have more synths on this record but have it be somehow organic-sounding. These ’80s bands like OMD had a good grasp on how to incorporate traditional instruments alongside electronics and synths. We used that as a guide.”

GUNS N' ROSES, “Don’t Cry” (1991)
“I’m a huge Guns N’ Roses fan. To me, ‘Don’t Cry’ is their best song. It has a classic quality to it, but it’s totally laced with GNR’s over-the-top vibe, which is really cool and something we try and incorporate in our music — just to try and challenge the listener to take these huge sonic leaps with us.”