Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Don't Call It "Stoner" Rock: Weedeater Get Ready To Smoke Cherry Street

Hardcore punk and metal has been mixing for quite a while now, especially in the South, where an antagonistic, slowed down take on this mutant hybrid called sludge, has made quite a home in ol' Dixie. In fact, you can say it's one the region's biggest heavy musical exports.

"Dixie" Dave Collins, bassist/vocalist for Weedeater, one of North Carolina's finest exports, outside of excellent college basketball, and a veteran of this particular strain of music has a reason for why this musical cross pollination has taken place.

"Maybe it's the heat, the sweet tea or the grits, whatever it is it's just a product of listening to such music as bluegrass, delta blues and country and combining it with heavier sounds like Saint Vitus, or when I was a young skateboarder, Black Flag," Collins said.

If you want to call it sludge, then that's ok, just whatever you do, don't call it stoner rock because that will get you nowhere and usually make the band you are trying to label pissed off. It's not a label most of the people playing this so-called music like to be called.

"I never understood the term 'stoner rock.' I mean, Louis Armstrong was stoned and he didn't play what most people would describe as 'stoner rock,'" said Collins.

On their most recent record, "Jason...The Dragon" their fourth overall and second for Southern Lord, the band, which also consists of Dave "Shep" Shepherd on guitar and Keith "Keko" Kirkum on drums, have delivered another master class in keeping it low, slow and heavy. Recorded and mixed by Steve Albini at his Electrical Audio Studios in Chicago in analog, the newest record continues the band down on the winning streak they started with their last record and Southern Lord debut, "God Luck and Good Speed."

Collins said they were happy how "God Luck" turned out with Albini behind the boards, so when it came time to record their newest record, it was a no brainer to go back to Chicago and work with him. Collins added that Albini is one of the best people when it comes to recording in analog, so that also helped their decision in using him again.

This golden touch when it comes to the heavy stuff shows its hand on "Jason...", as Albini wraps the band in some nice distorted noise and fuzz. It has just the right amount of balance in the mix. But it also helps that the band has delivered another batch of strong songs that manage to mix their love of indigenous Southern music and the heavier stuff. It gets in, gets out and manages to pummel you into submission (with a few unexpected detours) in 34 economical minutes. There is a certain punk rock brevity to many of the tracks, because the band doesn't try to bore you with ten minute drone suites, like some other bands in this genre.

After a crazy spoken word intro, "Hammerhandle," sets the tone with its heavy groove and loud, distorted bluesy riffs. "Mancoon" boogies a little bit, while the title track is five minutes of riff mastery. "Homecoming" is a nasty blues shuffle elevated by Shepherd's blown out solo in the middle of it.

There are also a few departures from their usual sound. "Whiskey Creek" is a dark, bluegrass inspired tune, while "Palms Of Opium" is a whacked out combination of Hawaiian music and helium voiced vocals by Collins. It was actually written when he has in a somewhat altered state, and it sounds like it.

As proud as they are of their recorded output, the band has something else to be proud of: the longevity of their line-up. You see, for all the years that the band has been together, it's basically been the three of them against the world.

"In 16 years there has never been a line-up change. You can't say that about any other bands in this genre. It's always been me, Shep and Keko. We couldn't envision doing it without each other. It's like a family. I often say the only way out of this is to die," said Collins.

That doesn't look like it's going to change any time soon, because after the band gets done with this short tour that takes them to the Cherry Street Station in Wallingford on April 24, they will take a short break as Collins goes on a West Coast tour with Hail!Hornet, his sludge metal super group that also features his cousin, T-Roy Medlin of Sourvein, and Erik Larson of The Might Could and the late, lamented Alabama Thunderpussy. After that, the band will be heading to Europe in the Summer for festival season and then it's back to Chicago in the Fall to record their next album, named "Goliathan," with Albini.

So definitely check the band out this Tuesday at Cherry Street. After witnessing one of their high energy sets, you will definitely believe that they play the "good shit."

Manic Productions Presents:

Iron Hand

Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Cherry Street Station
491 North Cherry Street Extension
Wallingford, CT 06492

7pm - $12 - 21+

Purchase tickets online or at Redscroll Records


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