Archive for June, 2010

At times, being approached to review an upcoming band’s release can be daunting for a multitude of reasons.  Thankfully these boys made it easy.  Real easy.  Hailing from the heart of Alberta seems to have worked in their favor; we hear no left-coast synth saturation and no sign of starry east-coast eyes.  Swampy, outback rock n’ roll’s on the grill this eve.  They’re servin’ up a meaty main course with a side of southern home fries.  Drinks are on the house.

Organ leads the opening track “Johnny’s New Knees” moments before a double take is required to pin whose voice is heard.  Lou Reed? No.  Perhaps for a second.  David Wilcox?  Maybe slightly, (in an admirable way) but quickly the gent before us shows that he’s got more gruff than that beloved billy goat.  The voice is Colin Anthony and it’s truly his own.  Hearing the EP’s title Nuclear Medicine as lyrics (as opposed to lyrics and title) within the opening track is a nice touch.

As the story goes, Colin’s as big on late night whiskey soaks as he is on many cigarette smokes.  He’s sure to have been headfirst in a batch when he laid down his take heard on “Release the Archers”—collectively, the strongest musical output on the record.  His haunting howls in the forefront are backed by his spooky organ offerings along side his gang’s individual weaponry.  Roy Rhyno’s delicate, though rapid hi-hat quips act as a precursor to my favorite part of the song: his drumming, though most notably, the 180° tom fills.  Kudos to the man behind the kit as well as Brad Miller’s mixing job.  The drum sound overall on this release—but more specifically on this tune—is bang on.  Now, lest we forget that while Jonny did get his new knees, he’s got some fiery leads up his sleeve.  Jon Bontje’s guitar creeps and cries subtly until the final act where his guitar, a piano and skins all go full boar, equally feeding off one another, taking it right on home.

“Captive Audience” may captivate and remind said audience of the likes of The Doors (so I’ve already heard) and while I’d agree pleasingly, Anthony sounds even dirtier than a Morrison and Rhyno sounds a tad more like a Bonham than a Densmore.  Vocals aside, I hear homage to Josh Homme and company’s more recent works.  As heavy as it is, the soft puffs of piano at the end rounds off the cut both slowly and softly.

“As a promise to you / As a promise to you / Oh, I’m Comin’ back / Comin’ back for you” is heard throughout the final—and likely the best saved for last—track “Comin’ Back For You.” We’re left with an epic piano and guitar driven ballad with an eastern European, circus friendly, organ interlude.  While the breakdown may at first seem out of place, it only makes the return to the strongest chorus on the album all the more favorable.  Whoever it is that Colin’s coming back for, he best find her.  If not—thanks to the motives and desperation in his voice—I’m going to have to find her, myself.

With a solid production, and spot-on delivery both musically and vocally I can only wish there was more here to digest.  On the bright side, having it play out in less than twenty minutes only allows us to do it all over again…even sooner.  While the name these Barrington boys carry may say otherwise—they’re sure to go anywhere but south.

…Weasel Was Here

out of 5 weasels.

  1. Jonny’s New Knees
  2. Release The Archers
  3. Captive Audience
  4. Coming Back For You (FREE MP3)

Visit The Barrington Southwinds online: myspace.com/thebarringtonsouthwinds

Never trust a weasel. Support the artist and find out for yourself. WestCoastWeasel.com encourages visiting The Barrington Southwinds online here to get your vermin hands on Nuclear Medicine.

Category : Turncoat Turntable | | Date : June 21, 2010

Well, this day finally had to come; it’s a day I’ve been avoiding for a couple of reasons.  When music is the most important thing to you and your task is to either build up or tear down an all-time favorite band, it’s a little unnerving when it ends up being the latter.  Anyone who hasn’t heard White Crosses (which had one of the most premature leaks in music history) is either living underneath a rock or simply doesn’t care.  If it’s the former, well, I’d love to tell you what you’ve been missing.  I really would.

Now before the confused, blindsided and self-proclaimed “open minded” fans assume I’m another disgruntled Reinventing Axl Rose-era crab—that’s not so much the case.  Granted, it’s likely my favorite Against Me! offering but I fell in love with the band after 2007’s New Wave.  I am, however, overtly familiar and passionate about everything they achieved prior.  While it’s been only three years, they likely hold the title for the band I’ve listened to the most…ever.

The title track’s lyrics, “I wake up in the morning with the same unanswered questions / I don’t know what’s going to cure my unsettled stomach,” are oddly what runs through my mind everyday.  Tom’s distaste lies in the hands of religious fundamentalists and their warped sense of appropriate homage to aborted fetuses (as opposed to my food intolerance).  I personally find them both disgusting.  Unfortunately, in what is one of the album’s strongest cuts, a little bit of balls do sneak out as he makes his attack, but only ever so briefly.

“I Was a Teenage Anarchist” follows, addressing his not-so recent growth from a budding young revolutionary to an arena rock try-hard.  For a guy who refused to acknowledge his anarchist past (which he shouldn’t have to) for years, he sure screws the pooch on this ill-fated, too little, too late gem.  “Narrowed visions of autonomy / They wanted me to surrender my identity” are possibly some of the strongest, most reasonable lyrics—but the rest fall short.  The catchy pop tune was clearly written for those who didn’t get the anarchist thing to begin with and surely never will.  You grew up and changed?  Perfect.  I’m not an anarchist either.  However, “Do you remember when you were young and wanted to set the world on fire? / The revolution was a lie” is a hypocritical , offensive slap in the face to both the thousands of kids who brought him up and made him who he is (and likely vice versa) and to what he once stood for.  This “farce revolution” made Tom Gabel—and more importantly—Against Me!

Just as the album turns left, down an over-produced syrup-glazed road—thanks to Butch Vig and the band’s Bon Jovi-like aspirations—we are given one amazing, well-crafted pop-rock song.  It does make a fan proud of their strides as musicians, even if it’s worlds apart different from anything they’ve ever done.  “Because of the Shame” incorporates delicate piano, spot-on harmonies, a healthy blend of electric and acoustic guitars alike behind Misfits “woahs” and personal, well written lyrics (a White Crosses rarity).  It leaves a guy wanting to hit repeat and avoid the rest of the album.  And mostly for good reason.

If there’s one fluid theme on this album it’s the questionably weak choruses.  “Suffocation,” “Ache with Me,” “High Pressure Low,” and “Rapid Decompression” all suffer from this syndrome.  You can be catchy and aim for superstardom all you want but you’re not going to get there with generics.  You almost got there with balls but now you’re lacking might in both lyrics and music.  When I interviewed Andrew, I asked (and hoped) if we’d hear the return of acoustic guitars (like some of their best, classic songs); I should have been careful what I wished for.  Instead of folky, singer-songwriter styled surprises, they just replaced one electric guitar on nearly every song with an acoustic.  Sorry, not what I was going for there.  Now they fit on any commercial radio station imaginable.  Out of the aforementioned bunch, “Rapid” is the exception as far as having a hard edge.  Hard edged or not, it’s certainly not a sharp one.  It’s bland, dull, and—to my dismay—the “rocker” ends up being one of the worst songs on the album.  What’s going on here?

“Spanish Moss” and moreover “High Pressure Low” aren’t horrible, (though simply mid-tempo rock tunes) but they’d be easier to swallow without the Vig machine pumping “aye yaye yayes” and more “woahs” (don’t even get me started on the “chica chicah’s” heard on “Ache with Me.”)  The latter tune showcases Tom’s voice beyond hard rock which could be admirable if the tune didn’t sound like something Green Day is currently auto-tuning.  Again the verse is tolerable but once that hit-making gleam appears in the eye of the chorus, all I can do is laugh.  Or cry.

At least when they got their feet wet with a big budget, a world famous producer and Vig’s varnish on New Wave, they still rocked.  Hats off to a slick, catchy rock record with punk rock influence (both lyrically and musically).  But it looks like that was it.  Call it their “segue” into a mediocre craft that further alienates those who loved them and nothing ground-breaking for those who don’t.

The final song at the end of this “what the hell happened to these guys?” journey, “Bambo Bones,” was initially equally as annoying early on, but it has grown to be one of my favored tracks.  It’s certainly anthemic and important, yet with their modern day optimism as opposed to angst.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  But… Against… what?

…Weasel Was Here

out of 5 weasels.

Choice cuts: “White Crosses”, “Because of The Shame” “Bambo Bones”

  1. White Crosses
  2. I Was a Teenage Anarchist
  3. Because of the Shame
  4. Suffocation
  5. We’re Breaking Up
  6. High Pressure Low
  7. Ache with Me
  8. Spanish Moss
  9. Rapid Decompression
  10. Bamboo Bones

Visit Against Me! online: againstme.netmyspace.com/againstme

“I Was A Teenage Anarchist” music video

“Rapid Decompression” music video

Never trust a weasel. Support the artist and find out for yourself. WestCoastWeasel.com encourages purchasing White Crosses locally at Red Cat Records in Vancouver, B.C, any independent record store of your choice or online here.

Category : Turncoat Turntable | | Date : June 14, 2010