Friday, October 15, 2004
The Weakerthans: (Hospital Vespers) (Go! Buy the Rekkid!)
Sick Week: Volume 4 (The Final Chapter) As I've said before, John K. Samson deserves to be added to the pantheon of song writing excellence. If one does not exist, it should be built. Canadian taxpayers should pay for it. We can carve it with tools fashioned from moth-balled submarines. I mean, if being in Austin Powers earns you a star on King Street then Hospital Vespers should earn John K. Samson a four-story bust on the side of a mountain. One of the things that strikes me most about this track is Samson's amazingly light hand with the mix of faith, hopelessness and black humour that happens in hospitals. When the narrator describes the gifts that he's brought ("A toothbrush and a Quick Pick with The Plus") and his friend's reaction ("You tried not to roll your sunken eyes") I can almost smell the antiseptic and plastic mattresses in the room of a patient who may not come home. "Vespers" is the second movement in the three-song cycle that marks the beginning, middle and end of The Weakerthan's 2003 wunderdisc Reconstruction Site. Now I know that using the word "movement" to describe indie rock songs makes me a wanker (so, probably, does making up the word "wunderdisc"). Sorry. But the fact is these are tunes that share a melody and a narrative arc. (Manifest), the opener, establishes the chord progression with horns and drives it along with marching-band-like snare rolls. It sounds like a parade. (Hospital Vespers) reprises the melody line through disorienting tape loops of a what sounds like a piano playing backward and (Past Due) closes the record with the spare, echoing vibes; the soundtrack to a newspaper obit. Buy Reconstruction Site (Seriously! Go buy this record! It will make your life better!) Visit the Weakerthans on the web. Just found this AMAZING John Samson solo session on CBC radio 3. It was recorded before Reconstruction Site dropped. Interesting demo versions of three of the RS tracks.