Thursday, July 5, 2012


(Northern Exposure is a feature where Mark incessantly rambles about music from his home country of Canada.)

I'm not usually a big lyrics person when it comes to most music. I’ve always said that lyrics either have to be really relatable and really good, or on the flip side, really bad to make me pay attention to them. The Weakerthans are one of those few bands that make me pay attention to the lyrics more than the actual music. Since I'm taking the time to write about the band, you probably guessed that I think it’s because I think their lyrics are awesome as opposed to being really terrible, and you’d be correct.

The Winnipeg band who formed in 1997 has a had a few lineup changes over the years, but the current lineup of Greg Smith, Stephen Carroll, Jason Tait and leader John K. Samson has been around since 2004.

Between 1997 and 2007 The Weakerthans have released their only four studio albums, every one of them to tons of critical acclaim. In 2005, their 2000 release Left And Leaving was named the best Canadian album of all-time by a Chart Magazine reader’s poll. To gain that amount of success without any large amount of mainstream radio play is quite an accomplishment indeed. While Left And Leaving may not be the best Canadian album ever, I think it certainly deserves to be in the conversation. There is just something about the music on it that give me a warm fuzzy feeling inside.

The latest Weakerthans album Reunion Tour was released in 2007. Although I don’t put much stock into these kinds of things, Reunion Tour actually charted at #181 on the US Billboard 200. It’s an odd accomplishment for a quirky band from Winnipeg, but I think that makes it all the more notable.

The Weakerthans haven’t released a full-length album since Reunion Tour but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been busy. In 2010 they released a collaborative album with Jim Bryson titled The Falcon Lake Incident, which was named after a supposed UFO sighting on Manitoba’s Falcon Lake. Also, earlier this year John K. Samson released his first full-length solo album titled Provincial. It focused mainly different themes from John’s home province of Winnipeg.

So, there is a brief history for you, now onto talking about the music.I guess you could call what the Weakerthans make rock music. It’s kind of in the vein of 9'0s rock outfits like Built To Spill, although I don’t think The Weakerthans are nearly as interesting as Built To Spill. To me, the music is more of a medium to deliver John J. Samson’s beautiful poetry. I think that it calling him a poet is far more appropriate than calling him a songwriter. John does such an amazing job of painting images and telling stories that it blows my mind sometimes. You can also tell from his words that he really loves where he is from, even if he sarcastically says otherwise in some of his songs (see below).

One song in particular that I love it “Virtute The Cat Explains Her Departure”. Just have a listen to it down below. I think if you’ve ever owned a pet at all, this song should pull at your heartstrings a bit.

Rumour has it that The Weakerthans are working on a new album that may be out in 2013. I really hope those rumours are true, because it's been way too long since these guys have released an album.

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