When you’re in a relationship with someone for a period of time you start to develop habits and inside jokes that only you two know. My wife and I have something along these lines related to Calgary. We went through a phase where we watched pro wrestling on TV together, getting kicks out of the crazy story lines and sometimes being blown away by tremendous (and often incredibly risky) physical feats. One of our favorite “heels” was Lance Storm, a too-stiff-to-believe guy with a buzz cut who’s Canadian citizenship was always part of his schtick. Seemingly whenever he got the mic he’d remind you he was from “Calgary [long pause… wait for it… wait for it…] Alberta, Canada!” So pretty much any time we hear someone say Calgary, you can bet the two of us will try to “out-Lance-Storm” each other and drop an “Alberta, Canada” at just the perfect time, usually 3-4 seconds after hearing “Calgary”. Other people, of course, find this odd at best, annoying at worst.
So what the hell does Lance Storm have to do with self-described sludge / post-hardcore / ambient band The Weir? Well, they’re from Calgary [wait for it!]… Alberta, Canada too. But unlike their wrestling city-mate, The Weir aren’t funny. They’re slow and heavy, like oil draining from a cold engine. Like Godzilla stomping his way through Tokyo. Like Atlas holding the world on his shoulders and trying to take a step.
The band description raised my eyebrows. I wasn’t quite sure how those genres fit together, but I have to admit I was intrigued. When I went to their homepage to listen to their new album Yesterday’s Graves (see below), I wasn’t surprised to see they only had six songs… that seems pretty punk rock. But I was surprised that those six songs provided over 42 minutes of music. Very un-punk. The Weir aren’t here to short-change you with quick hardcore numbers. Oh no. Like all good things, their songs take time to develop. This isn’t quick-in-quick-out. They’re taking you somewhere, and it’s a slow, methodical journey, sometimes heavy, sometimes quiet. And you’re just along for the ride.
The Weir give us two distinctive sounds on Yesterday’s Graves – one that is quiet, and one that is insistent. Somehow they weave these two disparate themes together into something that fits. In the middle of the album “La Belle Curve” is an eight minute instrumental that starts slow, picks up somewhat, but not a ton, in the middle, and then slowly trails off over the last couple of minutes before it finally seems to simply lose momentum to the point where it comes to a complete stop on its own, like the expanding universe may eventually do, slowly and ever more quietly approaching its end. This is the ambient. But then follows “In Silence,” which starts almost like a continuation of “La Belle Curve,” like the universe found just a bit more energy and is starting to come back to life… and it starts to build… insistently… and just over a minute in the growling vocals start to appear… energy… power… slowly starting to crush you. How did we get here? Things were so quiet and still just a minute or so ago! You don’t know. You didn’t see it coming. And that, my friends, is the power of The Weir, a microcosm of their sound in two songs.
To me, Yesterday’s Graves isn’t six songs. It’s one song. It’s one message from The Weir to the universe. I couldn’t tell you which song is my “favorite” because that doesn’t seem to make any sense in the context of this album, which I think is best played straight through, start to finish. I’m kind of glad I’m not listening on headphones, because I think I’d have been put into a trance and transported into some kind of mind-trip. Which sounds cool as hell, but it’s a bit too sunny outside for that journey right now. Maybe tonight when it gets dark and quiet…
Simply put, Yesterday’s Graves is one of the best new albums I’ve heard this year. Period.
Yesterday’s Graves is currently available online for a free listen, and you can also purchase the download. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Dude, this isn’t vinyl. True. But… [wait for it!] it’ll be on vinyl soon! In fact, according to the band’s Facebook page they already got the test pressings. So it’s coming. And it will be worth the wait. And you need to be ready so you can buy your copy before what I’m guessing will be a relatively small release is sold out. You seriously don’t want to miss out on this, because Yesterday’s Grave is some killer stuff.