The Weight - Are Men

by Dan MacIntosh

The Weight makes me think about 'the wait.' And by that I mean the long wait we've been through looking for the next great country-rock band. This band is not as spine-tingling-ly passionate as was Uncle Tupelo, for instance, but they have the potential to give Drive-By Truckers a good hard run for their money. They're really that good.

Joseph Plunkett is the leader of this band and has a wonderfully distinctive voice. When he's singing these ten songs, he manages to combine the crustiness of Doug Sahm, with the modern twang of Dwight Yoakam in ways that have never been done before.

These guys also write excellent songs. The wisdom it took to write the line that opens "Closer Than A Friend" is simply astounding. "Well, she says she lives without regrets/And I said, 'Honey, you're too young to know that yet.'" And just as he knows the girl in "Closer Than A Friend" better than she knows herself, he also knows himself pretty darn well, too. During "Like Me Better" he warns, "You're gonna like me better when you don't know me anymore."

The Weight sounds a lot like The Flying Burrito Brothers, only Plunkett sings better than Gram Parsons, and the band writes consistently better songs. This may read like country-rock blasphemy to some, but it's the truth. I'll go so far as to say The Weight is what The Flying Burrito Brothers might have been, had Parsons not self-destructed.

Since the advent of the No Depression movement, there have been a whole lot of acts coming out in the name of country music, or something like it. And while many of these acts have accurately approximated the barroom depression of honky-tonk lyricism, much of the music itself has left a lot to be desired. Truth be told, quite a few of these folks couldn't write a hook if their life depended on it. The Weight, in contrast, also know how to create songs that make you hum. "Had It Made", for example, with its Chuck Berry guitar groove is a pure hoot.

If you're a rocker, with a soft spot for country, or a country fan that isn't embarrassed to rock out, please do not wait for The Weight. Put this one on your must-listen-to list, right now.

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