THE BEST OF 2007
The Weakerthans gel on 'Reunion Tour'
Editor's note: This story is the first in a series highlighting the best that 2007 had to offer.
By DIANNE N. BROWN
STATIC and FEEDBACK correspondent
How do you go about taking an entire year’s worth of music, revisiting each particular album and then choosing, very carefully and thoughtfully, the very best of them all? Listening for hours and hours, iPod earbuds stuffed ungracefully next to timpanic membranes, eyes burning from reading and re-reading tracklists … For some people this must be a daunting task. But for me, the girl who listens mostly to music made before 1990 and is practically a Luddite, it wasn’t so bad.
My pick for the best album of 2K7 is Reunion Tour by the Weakerthans. Open disclosure: The Weakerthans are one of my most favorite bands and hold rank with such illustrious folks as Blondie, The Smiths, and Ani DiFranco. This does not mean, however, that my review is totally biased. I was quick to abandon Weezer (My OMG-fangirl-squee! band in high school) as soon as Maladroit dropped.
What I’m trying to say, very wordily, is that Reunion Tour is a great fucking album. John K. Samson is a true poet and on past albums, the Weakerthans have felt a bit like John K. Samson with a faceless backing band. This album, however, lets the musicians of the Weakerthans shine just as brightly as Samson. The track “Night Windows” is a particularly striking example of this. The walking bass line and insistent drums underscore Samson’s longing. You can easily imagine riding in a bus, staring at those same darkened windows in the (vain) hopes that there will be an opportunity to say things that always needed saying.
Reunion Tour (they never disbanded, by the way, just took four brutally long years to create a new album) is an album composed of many, many different sounding songs. The Weakerthans have expanded their repertoire here, and the results are delicious. I listened to “Sun in an Empty Room” while sitting in the middle of the floor of my last dorm room. I cried for that cat named Virtute, whose story is finally fully explained. And though some may shake their heads and say Samson was trying too hard on the spoken-word track “Elegy for Gump Worsley,” I was struck by the sentiment. On the final track, “Utilities,” one can hear Samson arching his eyebrow as he reports having “more faults than the state of California ” and yet there is still something sincere behind such a statement. I can also say, from experience, that these tracks sound equally amazing live. I was able to catch the Weakerthans in Boston this autumn and they, once more, blew me away. It’s refreshing to hear a band live and find that they are just as excellent as they are in other formats.
Ultimately, you should give Reunion Tour a listen. It’s an album that rivals a volume of prize-winning short stories. Where else can you hear the tales of a Canadian bus driver, an aged hockey great, a wayward cat and a suffering medical anomaly, all tinged with that sweet-melancholic Weakerthans sound?
AND WHILE WE'RE HERE...
You should also try these little numbers on for size (I think they’d suit you just fine):
M.I.A. — Kala
LCD Sound System — Sound of Silver
The Arcade Fire — Neon Bible
Feist — The Reminder
Wilco — Sky Blue Sky
Rilo Kiley — Under the Black Light
Ani DiFranco — Canon