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The Weird Weeds - Weird Feelings

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Artist: The Weird Weeds

Album: Weird Feelings

Label: Sounds Are Active

Review date: Oct. 23, 2006

It's no surprise that Austin's The Weird Weeds managed to fit all the lyrics to Weird Feelings on the back of their CD cover. Their songs are minimal, and they float through the listener's mind in about the same way a haiku does. Most tracks contain only a handful of lines, and the lyrics are suggestive rather than direct.

The music that accompanies their lyrics and melodies is also mimimal, and it bristles with desperation. The Weird Weeds' sound rarely includes anything more than their simple guitar/guitar/drums lineup, and often they barely sound like they're hanging together. This feature makes the usual name-dropping comparisons (Bedhead with fewer guitars and higher-pitched vocals, maybe?) a little bit ridiculous. The Weird Weeds play indie-rock with country and folk touches, which seems straightforward enough, but their loose playing and spare arrangements make their music trickier than one might expect.

Also confounding easy comparisons is the fact that, often, the primary role of one or more players is to add noise or some other kind of texture. Sometimes these bits of texture take the form of the noisy guitar drones one might expect from music like this, but at least as often they're the sort of weird, intensely detailed scratching and scraping you'd hear in improv or modern classical music. (This isn't surprising, since drummer Nick Hennies is also an accomplished modern classical percussionist.)

All this means that The Weird Weeds have a very distinctive sound. When they're able to shape it into memorable songs, they've got something really powerful. "Tupper," for example, fits jittery, discomforting bowed guitar, squawking trombone (from guest Tucker Dulin), and loud, intentionally imprecise, Deerhoof-style drumming into what would otherwise simply be a quiet, slow pop song. The effect is strange and haunting.

Elsewhere, Hennies and Sandy Ewen add slow-motion vocal lines that seem to contribute atmosphere more than melody. Hennies and Ewen sound a little like Low's Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker at the beginning of "For You to See Me," and like Low's, The Weird Weeds' vocals aren't very melodic in the usual sense. Unlike Low, though, the Weird Weeds don't typically aim to create dreamlike textures that last an entire song, and so I wish The Weird Weeds' melodies were a little more traditionally melodic - they could write catchier and slightly busier melodies without detracting from any of their most unique elements. That they've got unique elements at all puts them light years ahead of most bands, though, and there's a lot to love about Weird Feelings.

By Charlie Wilmoth

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