Weatherbox - American Art
Release Date: May 8th, 2007
Record Label: Doghouse Records
American Art and I are tight. After hearing “Trippin’ The Life Fantastic” off PureVolume, I felt an immediate connection to the snarky indie pop rock baring its Doghouse Records teeth. Something clicked. Sometimes, a band’s sound reverberates so strongly with my personality and musical taste, that it just makes sense to me. That’s Weatherbox to me. I guess I just really dig their style.
Without praising to the heavens too quick, there were a couple things that I first had to digest. First it was singer Brian Warren’s likeness to the self-denying wonderman of pop-rock, Max Bemis. Warren’s crow is a defiant yet still vulnerable half-song/half-preach, and the howling compared to Bemis’ is undeniably similar. Yelling and slurring into his own personalized delivery, Warren gains a sturdy standing after the first track, “Atoms Smash.” The only problem is that after “Atoms Smash,” American Art lulls into several mid-tempo numbers that sort-of sound like each other. The standout songs act as pick-me-ups and are the true highlights of the album. In groups of ones or twos, Weatherbox tracks are like charming treats. In a line of 13, Warren’s vocals hit a little too sharp, the riffs begin to bleed together, and the hooks tend to wallow. Still, the product fashions like a toned-down Say Anything and Piebald mixed bag, which is more than OK for me.
This brings me to my real point. American Art, and Weatherbox for that matter, is so close to a home run that I can smell what could be over the peanuts; it’s just not there yet (for me). There are a lot of elements that integrate faultlessly into the overall scheme of American Art. Warren’s vocals are exactly what the crunchiness of the guitars and sharpness of the riffs need. The start and stop transitions on tracks like “Trippin The Life Fantastic” are just flashy enough. The arrangements are nostalgic, special and almost empowering. Elemental indulgences like the rapping in “Drop The Mike” are so delicate and modest that the rest of the song no longer matters. And lyrically, Weatherbox is adventurous without leaving the room. The drug references are sometimes subtle (“Trippin The Life Fantastic”) and sometimes not (“The Drugs”), but there is a youthful philosophy inviting for individual interpretations - anthems without the abundance of power chords.
The Clearing EP, released in November of 2006, was a cute little pocket of great expectations. For American Art, the band re-recorded “Snakes, Our Ground,” “The Clearing” and “Atoms Smash,” the three tracks that sound closest to the rest of full-length. Although “Cowboy Mountain” is funky and fun (and one of my personal favorites), the Doghouse crew makes good decisions. I’m more than interested to see what Weatherbox can do because whatever is rearing to go from below the surface, I can feel it there.
Another wonderful review as usual, Julia. And for whatever reason I must applaud the line: "And lyrically, Weatherbox is adventurous without leaving the room." I don't know why but that sentence stuck out.
Any band compared to Say Anything will get attention from me, but I could compare them a little more to Mock Orange than Say Anything, with the meandering guitars and precise riffage. I like what I hear.