Left and Leaving (Sub City)
by Tim Den
I totally understand what The Weakerthans mean when they say “this album is exactly what we wanted to make.” I’d heard the signs in their debut, Fallow, that they were only going to get more and more folk (and less punk/indie) as time went along. Because, if you’re the kind that pays attention to the important details, The Weakerthans have always been a shoot-for-the-heart singer/songwriter outfit that looked more to Woody Guthrie and Billy Bragg than Sonic Youth or Bad Religion.
They mix it up more than their influences, of course, as numbers like “Aside” and “Pamphleteer” show (melodic rockers that sound like Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers covering Jimmy Eat World), but they’re still more comfortable penning a sad narrative than turning up the gain channel. Good for them, because they do it well. Very well, in fact. To the point where they’ve gained enough scene respect to build Left and Leaving into one of the hottest underground releases this year. They’ve set themselves apart from the usual “strum-and-sing” bands with their down-home sincerity, the kind where you can’t doubt it because it pins you to the ground with rural scenery and brotherly love. Even a city kid like me can’t help but yearn for the country life when I hear guitarist/vocalist John K. Samson croon with his fragile but firm tenor. An album that paints pictures with its melodies and words. Beautiful.
(PO Box 7495 Van Nuys, CA 91409)