I just recently saw a great live show at NYC’s Cake Shop on the Lower East Side. The headliner was San Francisco’s amazing throwback Detroit-style rockers, Apache, and playing before them was New York’s Electric Shadows, who were equally rockin’ and who are currently working on a full-length debut album. But the opener that played before them both was Brooklyn's The Weight, whose album, Are Men, has made me regret grabbing that second pre-show pitcher at Katz’s and rolling in after they wrapped up.
The Weight are very different than the bands that they shared the stage with that night, and they are very different from the other music scenes that they are used to sharing stages with in Brooklyn. Their new album, Are Men, is a fantastic display of dive-bar country tunes interspersed with rockin’ psych guitar rave-ups. They probably share the closest likeness in style with Gram Parsons-era Byrds and pre-Wilco band Uncle Tupelo, and I’m hearing some of the grit of good ole’ original country boys like Merle and Waylon. The band has dropped some of the ‘alt’ in the alt-country style more present on 2004’s 10 Mile Grace and really plays a looser, more fun version of country-rock. Not really what you think of when you hear "Brooklyn indie-band," huh?
The album starts strong with “Like Me Better” which introduces the hillbilly singer who sounds like he is playing his first song of the night to a sparsely-attended dive bar. The rock presence picks up though just two and a half minutes in when the electric guitar forces its way in and hangs around for a good minute. I know, it’s unheard of, an extended guitar solo on a modern rock album! God bless ‘em for it. “Had It Made” follows and it makes it very clear that there is plenty of rocking to be done. Over the next few songs you get steel guitar, country wit and wisdom, a great harmonica solo, and a stellar guitar rave-up closes out the song “Talkin”. The epic 7-minute “Sunday Driver” is like The Weight’s “Tuesday’s Gone”.
The Weight’s Are Men is sheer rocky-tonk music that should be in every dive-bar jukebox in the country. I love this quote from the The Colonel Records’ one-sheet for the album…”for the similarly post-jaded kids and honest fans of Americana, Are Men sounds like the record you actually enjoy listening to.” It’s so true. The next time me and the boys are drinking an 18-pack of Bud at my place, I’ll certainly be spinning this album.