WEINLAND-“Breaks in the Sun”

If you haven’t heard of Weinland yet, you don’t read my blog closely enough. Back in September of ’08, I gave “La Lamentor” a huge thumbs up.

La Lamentor was a passionate, powerful, and heartbreaking second album from this Portland, Oregon, band, who have exploded into 2009 with something even better. “Something inside you will eat its way out,” Adam Shearer sings on, “I’m Sure It Helps,” and I get the sense that he’s talking about “Breaks in the Sun,” the band’s third album.

Sunken Eyes,” the lead track and first single, is typically quiet and sad, with hints of Neil Young but enough swells and drama to avoid Young’s propensity to make me want to slit my own wrists. If you don’t like this song, you won’t like the rest of the album. You’re also an idiot, or, at least, you’re not giving it enough of a chance. It’s true that much of the folk-rock songs on the record blend together, with several sounding vaguely like “Only Love Can Break Your Heart,” but that does more to set the mood than to sound redundant. For example, “Hardly Worth Saving,” showcases a lick that’s pretty close to “I’m Sure It Helps,” only this time it’s faster, with more energetic drums, and even a brief electric guitar solo. Overall, it’s got a ‘70s AM Radio feel, without being nostalgic (or silly, as so much in that decade could be). In fact, it’s that “sunny” ‘70s feel that makes this record Weinland’s best: Where the band’s first two records were somewhat overladen with pain, this one feels . . . Happy? Maybe that’s an overstatement. Let’s go with “optimistic,” at least.

The lyrics have a starring role on the record, mixing zen-like philosophy (sample lyric: “we are all worth what owe/it’s not who you know”) and broken-hearted laments (sample lyric: “Own up to what you’ve done/How can you do this/We both know that it’s wrong . . . It’s people like you that always look for someone else to blame”). Each word is chosen with precision and intent. There’s nothing extra, nothing to throw away, and it all fits neatly within skillfull, peaceful melodies. There’s five guys in this band, but you’d never know it. They play so well together that it all sounds like one, unstoppable force. According to their bio, the band “cashed out their 401(k)’s, emptied their bank accounts, and put everything they had into making sure Breaks In The Sun would see the light in 2009.” Weinland has triumphed, and all of you should listen. And buy the freakin’ thing. These guys are the real thing, which means you should support them with your money as well as your ears, praise, and love.
Sunken Eyes

I’m Sure It Helps


Do You Realize? (Flaming Lips cover)-Beck (YSI)

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