Weaves - Wide Open

by Bill Golembeski Rating:8 Release Date:2017-10-06
Weaves - Wide Open
Weaves - Wide Open

Weaves’ Wide Open is an off-kilter bit of rock ‘n’ roll, but it’s a wonderful kilter from which to be off. Vocalist Jasmyn Burke, with her distinctive delivery, began their first album with the declaration, “This is just the beginning of what I want to say.”

Well, this album is chock-full of more what she wants to say. Sure, she dominates the band’s sound; however, coming in a close second is guitarist Morgan Waters, whose elastic notes bend the songs with weird gravity. This music, I suppose, is art rock simply because the tunes (which are immensely catchy) just refuse to subscribe to any pop format. Well, quite frankly, the songs go all over the place.

And they are all the better for it.

The album begins with “#53” (which is a great title). This is urgent post punk music. There is a lot of power here. “Slicked” sounds like guitar-driven soundtrack from that old Absent-Minded Professor movie in which Ned Brainard invents flubber and everybody starts bouncing all over the place.

That’s a fair comment about this music: It bounces all over the place.

You know, it’s also fair to say this band adheres to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Transcendental theory that states, “imitation is suicide.” It may well be hyperbolic, but I feel about Weaves like I felt as I listened to XTC, Wire, The Cure (with their Faith album), The Talking Heads, or Peter Gabriel era Genesis. Now, this music doesn’t sound anything like those bands, but they do adhere to the creed of another Transcendentalist, Henry David Thoreau, who wrote in Walden: “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.”

And trust me, that different drummer is certainly not Phil Collins.

But I suppose, as a vague reference point, this Weaves album has a distant kinship with my favorite Pere Ubu record Dub Housing, without all the sharp edges.

There are more songs. “Law and Panda” (another great title!), in addition to everything else, has wonderful backing vocals. “Walkaway” is flippant and important at the same time. Rock music is like that sometimes. “LaLa” is melodically thick like fast concrete being poured. The title cut “Wide Open” is slow, dramatic, and atmospheric. It’s a welcome change. And it’s quite a beautiful song.

I don’t know, and perhaps I missed something important, but the song “Motherfucker” (not a great title), despite a vague Oedipal reference, hardly justifies its less than one-minute existence.

But redemption follows with “Scream,” a song that’s filled with enough of that earlier-mentioned flubber to bounce into more than several movie sequels. It’s just a thought, but this sounds like early Kate Bush when she created profoundly weird stuff like “Get Out of My House” or “Running Up That Hill.” (I didn’t much care for 50 Words for Whatever.) “Gasoline” is (almost) a traditional rock song. “Grass” asks a question near and dear to my heart: “What’s growing in my grass? That’s an oddly significant thing to say.  And again, the guitars bend the universe. And that’s an oddly significant thing to do. “Puddles” ends it all with an acoustic (and melodic) intro that quickly morphs into a deep gulch of psychology, drum beats, and lovely guitar feedback.

By the way, this review was written with my brand-new English setter puppy Willamena on my lap. She was a constant distraction and wanted to paw the keyboard. But at least I can now blame her for any typos—typos that I always make with or without a setter pup on my lap.

I like this band. They are weird, and they are very much alive. To bring that Transcendental stuff up again, Henry David Thoreau said, “Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.” This record rocks with that idea. Good music all over the world rocks with that idea. So, let’s all put some of that mythical flubber on the bottom of our collective shoes, defy gravity, sell our clothes, and bounce around the world to the music of a pretty great rock band.

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