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The Weird Weeds - Hold Me

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Artist: The Weird Weeds

Album: Hold Me

Label: Edition Manifold

Review date: Apr. 20, 2005

Pop music relies on structural devices that after a life-long course of intimation now appear fundamental, making any attempt to abandon them seem impossible without a little self-coercion. This may be why easily-winded critics have all but starved the word "cerebral" of its journalistic value in their effort to discuss groups that give more than just lip-service and winks to the avant garde. However, thinking of experimental music as purely intellectual is flat-out wrong because it assumes that all musicians who stray from the Archetypal Pop Song are subverting some primal instinct to play verses and choruses. An apt example is when a band shows moments of technical craft, but opt to submerse themselves in Hey-I-can-do-that-it's-just-noise experimentation.

Somewhere between conformity and disregard is the Weird Weeds’ debut effort, Hold Me. Though it never fully embraces ametrical atonality, its stabs at sparse, undistorted vignette-pop lie on the margins of classically-informed dissonance. Nowhere is this more clearly exhibited than on the album’s highlight track, "Holy Train Wrecks," a song which could be mistaken for one of Marcel Duchamp’s bare-boned percussive works being interpreted by His Name is Alive (or any number of Warren Defever’s Time Stereo side projects, for that matter).

Hold Me is the first release on Weird Weeds drummer Nick Hennies’ Edition Manifold that isn’t completely improvised. Though each member of the group is elemental, it’s Hennies’ perversion of the drum kit that lends the album its most unique moments. Any song could find the percussion dancing in and out of rhythm, drum heads being exaggeratedly detuned, and the sound of a violin bow combating the notion that horse hair on metal always yields soothing, unabrasive results. All this helps forgive his over-affected vocal work which, as indicated on "Bachelor Party" and "Fifty Dollars," shakes like a hot, new conservative dance craze. Hey, do the Pro-Life Movement!

With Hold Me, the Weird Weeds have cast themselves on an island. Not as accessible as friends-in-avant-pop The Castanets, but not so experimental as to stray away from consonance entirely. Their songs slowly lumber from idea to idea until the group collectively decides on a place of reposal. And then the next one starts.

By Kevin Adickes

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