A visit to the Weakerthans' website hints that you're not dealing with a run-of-the-mill indie rock band: "We suggest you read a book, because it might change the way you feel." But before returning to your copy of Last Train to Memphis, you'd be wise to check out these introspective Canadian alt.-rockers.
After John K. Samson split from left-wing prankster punk band Propagandhi in 1997, he upped the literary lyrical quotient, softened the political blows, and formed the Weakerthans in Winnipeg. The move wasn't too surprising, considering the fact that Samson helps run a not-for-profit publishing house and takes college courses on politics during band breaks.
Left & Leaving, the Weakerthans' stirring 2000 album, combined agit folk and punk/pop in equal doses. The Canadian music industry welcomed it, and delivered the band a Juno Award nomination. Soon after, rock critics across the continent rushed to put 'em on their year-end lists.
On their new release Reconstruction Site, the Weakerthans craft an even better balance of personal and political. And there's some serious stuff is going on here, evidenced by such titles as "Psalm for the Elks Lodge Last Call" and "Our Retired Explorer Dines with Michel Foucault in Paris, 1961." Much like Jets to Brazil's recent works, Reconstruction is filled with earthy, reflective indie pop that frequently borders on alt-country. Three tunes are modeled upon Elizabethan sonnets; "One Great City" examines bitter characters in Winnipeg, and one of the narratives is even sung from a feline's point of view.