Weatherbox | The Cosmic Drama (Doghouse)

cd_weatherbox.gifIf you think you’re in for the typical indie-rock experience, you’ve got a bit to learn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t tell you much about Weatherbox because I don’t know anything myself. There’s a little bit of emo, a little bit of shoegaze, a little bit of singer-songwriter, and a lot of bit of indie in their sound. The Cosmic Drama is their fourth release, and the second on Doghouse Records.

The oddly named disc opener "Spu?? Ou (Anything That Moves)" presents odd time signatures, loud vs. soft, unique vocalizing, and an exercise in genre-shifting. Truly, this is a sign of things to come; if you think you’re in for the typical indie-rock experience, you’ve got a bit to learn. Singer/lyricist Warren Hill’s voice isn’t one you’ll take to readily; rather, it’s an acquired taste. The same could be said for this album; it’s a ride, to be sure.

The oddity of "Ask My Flashlight" gives way to a wall of sound marked by stark, opposing guitars in "Contactus, the Little Green Man." "Don’t Say Nice Things" is Warren’s attempt at advice-giving; perhaps here the band best recalls older Cursive, back when Tim Kasher had all that angst to get out and the band was more interested in the beauty in noise rather than music that sounded, well, a tad too generic. (Do all angst-rock bands have to grow up? Are you sure?)

Guitar sits front and center on "I Haven’t Kissed a Guy in Lightyears." Group vocals make this one a ready sing (shout) along, while the underlying melody makes it an instant favorite. Next up, "Two Satchels of Light" kicks off with an inviting repetition before giving way to a song that desperately wants to soar…and very nearly succeeds. You may wonder why Warren has named one of his songs after a band with too long of a name—…And You Will Know Me by the Trail of Dead—but here you have it. I guess it’s the title and the repetition of "cast me out," but my mind goes instantly to the "Bring out your dead!" scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Hmm; nice soundtrack to the visual.

The oddly named songs recall Minus the Bear’s early work (I always found their attempts at being overly juvenile/ridiculous to be, well, juvenile and ridiculous, despite how perfectly wonderful the music was), but here they fit a bit better. Call it a combination of Warren’s nasal and repetitious vocals mixed with his odd lyrics, but the names don’t bother me as much. That’s good, because a song entitled "YouTube the Clouds (Anything That Flies)" could easily perceived as a bit, uh, excessive.

"Mindthings to W.A.S.T.E." is a lovely song, racing one minute and aching the next. "I have to make you mine/ I have to make you my mind," Warren sings (repeatedly, I might add). The breaks in the noise — revealing just a key or two — are oddly poignant. This one’s an instant favorite; highly recommended. Following the slow and quiet "This Space Intentionally Left Blank," "That Mann" comes along to wrap things up in an understated way.

A couple of times—notably on "They’re Ready for Us to Come Home" (stripped down acoustic guitar) and "King Friend (The Showing of the Instruments)"—Warren’s voice seems to grate more than it endears. On the whole, though, The Cosmic Drama is an intriguing, fun and challenging listen, one you won’t soon get tired of. B | Laura Hamlett

RIYL: Cursive of old, +/-

About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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