The Weakerthans: Poetic Prarie-Rock Foursome Learn To Laugh On Their Stunning New Album
By Sarah Liss
The Weakerthans CD release at the El Mocambo (464 Spadina), Tuesday (August 26). Free. All ages. 416-777-1777.
Don't be surprised if you see grown men weeping at a Weakerthans show. There's something about the Winnipeg folk-punk foursome's tunes that packs a gut-wrenching wallop. It's there in the sepia-toned snapshots of buildings crumbling across a bleak Manitoba landscape, in the bittersweet wistfulness of singer John K. Samson's tenor, in the keening guitar washes and shuddering marching-band drumbeats that haunt their songs like memory ghosts.
An ex-Peg-punk-turned-T.O.-academic pal of mine confessed to me a few weeks ago, "I've started listening to Left And Leaving again," referring to the band's 2000 breakthrough album. "Don't be surprised if you hear I've slit my wrists and moved back to Winnipeg."
Pretty brutal, huh? That's why it's so startling to hear the Weakerthans sounding almost chipper on their jaw-droppingly good new Reconstruction Site (Epitaph) disc.
While there are still twinges of loneliness, existential anxiety and frustration on the record, the overall tone is hopeful. Even - gasp! - jovial at times.
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