Record Label: Facedown Records
Genre: Indie Rock
Release Date: November 20, 2020
Album-length: 40 Minutes
- Mach 7 4:32
- Chasing Me 3:48
- Safe Travels 4:10
- Quick Tempered 2:57
- Ghost Tape 10 2:58
- Dark Joy 3:53
- In This World 3:54
- Final Form 4:07
- I Will Not Go 3:37
- Like the Sun 5:12
Weathered is a band that for the longest time I just couldn’t seem to find a way to enjoy. I remember being excited when there was a new band signing being announced by Facedown, and subsequently thinking, well this one isn’t for me. I kept trying though, I knew there was something to this band, and so many people were very into them. Every couple of months I’d give it a try. Eventually, I gave up. However, a couple of new friends (looking at you David and Russell) pushed me again as this new album was ready to drop. I have no idea what changed, but it finally clicked. I fell hard for these guys and devoured the whole discography (and bought all the vinyl I could).
I tend to like to discuss the genre of a release at the beginning of my reviews. This time around it’s an incredibly difficult thing to do. I’ve heard this labeled as emo, and I would have just called it indie rock, probably wrong but it’s my catch-all for anything I like that doesn’t have screaming of some sort in it. I think there are definitely elements of both of those, but you’ll also hear some folk, shoegaze, and even a little country (I’m glad that the band made this comment or I’d have felt silly mentioning it). Everything blends and nothing ever sounds out of place. My one issue, and it’s clearly my issue, is that Weathered sounds like a big bottle of nostalgia. As I listen there is always a sense in the back of my head that they remind me of something, but for the life of me I can’t figure out what. I’ve heard them talk about influences and it’s all stuff I know I’ve never listened to.
As I mentioned above, Weathered is quite diverse in the music that they play. The thing that holds it all together throughout the album is how well they all work together to build a feeling. The tone of the lyrics is represented in the music, if they want to brood, upbeat, creepy, or just plain fun they know exactly how to go about achieving it. Have I mentioned yet how tight this band is? Each of the instruments is highlighted. I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard a band use the bass as well as it is here. I won’t pretend to know which guitarist plays lead versus rhythm, or maybe they share, but they complement each other so very well. The rhythm keeps the flow of the song moving and allows the lead to wander off and experiment, giving us a solo here, a distorted shoegaze meander there, or even some acoustic accompaniments. After a significant number of listens, I’ve noticed that Weathered has a bit of a pattern to their song structures. They rely heavily on a slower intro, steady build into the chorus, and a passionate rocking second verse through to the end of the song. They do it so well and mix all the different elements so effortlessly that you won’t get bored or even notice. I won’t do a complete song-by-song breakdown, but I do want to highlight a few songs. Quick Tempered masterfully plays with the balancing of the slow and brooding with the energetic rock. You feel the wallowing self-pity the character in the song is going through. Ghost Tape #10 is the heaviest song on the album. It harkens back a bit to the 90s grunge sound, they play with distortion and lean on the bass to convey a creepy vibe. There’s an edge to the melancholy. The drums on I Will Not Go have a marching beat that helps you to sink right into the story of being lost and wandering out in the wilderness. Lastly, Final Form is an acoustic folksy song that I can imagine being played while sitting around a fire. Stripped down, but not lacking in passion.
Vocally, Justin Robert shows a crazy range throughout the album. On songs such as Safe Travels and I, Will Not Go he takes on the role of a narrator, telling a clear concise story. On the latter, there is a spot in the song in which God is responding and he switches to a deeper and heavier tone to differentiate speakers and it adds so much weight. Ghost Tape #10 and In This World Justin brings a 90s alternative sound. He doesn’t venture into screaming or a more extreme vocal, but there are aggression and edge to both. He even sounds like he’s channeling a little bit of Bob Dylan on Final Form. There are a lot of little subtleties that Justin uses to keep things fresh, for example on Mach 7 when he delivers the line “ Thinking about all of the reasons I won’t be saved” he does a little stutter/roll of the tongue on the word Thinking and it makes the lyric pop out.
Lyrically, Everything All at Once is a dark and melancholic series of songs. However, it’s not in a morbid self-defeating kind of way. Instead, it’s an honest look at the struggles of life. Justin has said in interviews that the songs are not all autobiographical (though at least one is), but each tells a story of people looking at their lives and trying to figure out how to cope. Chasing Me examines the constant need to deal with our issues/sins and the frustration inherent in the failures “But I keep shooting blanks at my stubborn ways.” Safe Travels looks at how we come to terms with the awful things we see and deal with in life framed by a story of a friend who’s physically abused by her husband. Quick Tempered examines the need to really look at and own our sins while still being able to lay them down when we are forgiven. “It feels like a lawyer’s dodge to make my case against the Judge and get away with everything I’ve done and still end up above.” It’s a fine line between wallowing in our sins and taking responsibility to show true repentance. Ghost Tape #10 touches on self-esteem issues caused by media and the horrible things we may do in order to cope. Dark Joy is a particularly poignant song for me as it addresses the difficulty of forgiving others and how we can derive a kind of joy (dark) from hanging on to our anger “I think some wrongs just can’t be pardoned. I keep carrying around this stone. That’s a rock you can’t unthrow.” I won’t go through all of the songs (you however should) but I wanted to finish with Mach 7 and I Will Not Go. Both use analogies to get the point across. Mach 7 uses the imagery of getting on a space ship to escape our sinfulness. There is an underlying idea of getting on the ship being our death and flying away as going on to be with God. Intermingled is the fear of missing that flight and never being able to soar away. I Will tells the story of how Justin got lost in the woods and his panic kept him from clearly thinking his way out of his situation. He contrasts this story with our need to trust in God, when we panic or demand to understand God and his mystery we forget that he has a plan and will see us through, just as Justin despite his fear and panic slept in his bed that night.
There is so much more that could be said about this album, and I feel woefully inadequate in doing so. Weathered has crafted 10 nearly perfect songs. They work so well together and it shows that each member of the band brings a great deal to the table. Nothing on this album feels forced or thoughtlessly thrown together. Every one of these songs stands out and could easily be single, while at the same time it weaves together to form a wonderfully complete whole. I liken the album to a book of short stories by the same author. Each story has its theme and tone, but the hand holding the pen is unquestionably the same one. I am so glad that I was able to turn the corner on Weathered; the music is amazingly crafted and landed high on my top albums of 2020. The honest and at times brutal look at life serves to highlight our struggles, but they underline the whole thing with the hope we find in our God and his Son our Savior. As Chasing Me ends they declare, “I am Yours”!