Being in a band isn’t easy. Being on the road for months on end isn’t easy. Yet, it’s the way Jackson Mississippi long-haired rockers The Weeks make both a living and a life. With their latest release, Easy, via Lightning Rod Records, brothers Cyle Barnes (vocals)and Cain Barnes (drums), Sam Williams (guitar, vocals) and Damien Bone(bass), The Weeks make a new sound with the help of vintage instruments and old Memphis soul sounds of the iconic Ardent studios.
Utilizing Big Star’s snare drum, Elvis Presley’s microphone, and Booker T’s organ, echoing similar sounds of southern rockers ZZ Top was inevitable. But for the now-Nashville-based band, the result is not only believable, but it’s true to their roots. Their sweet, sometimes stinky, swampy sounds of the hot, dirty South. This time, though, they’re a bit stripped back.
Tuning the dial back to where it all began works well for The Weeks, with Easy resembling a more gritty live-concert sound. A sound that’s been mastered from a decade of time spent on the road, performing headlining club gigs as well as support for huge arenas with Kings of Leon.
“Ike” features the iconic organ, transporting listeners back to the early days of rock ‘n’ roll, showcasing rock’s cool uncle, soul. The organs and horn section keep the track marching on like a parade. “Hands on the Radio” is eerily similar to Kings of Leon’s “Reverend,” and could almost be a call-back to the unique bluesy guitar, gospel choirs, slow and steady rock ballad. Given their time sharing stages, it’s hard to say who inspired who, but when both songs are great, there’s no need to complain.
The intro to “Bottle Rocket” is reminiscent of Poison’s “Unskinny Bop,” with clear influences of livin’ a dangerous rock ‘n ‘ roll lifestyle, come what may. (He lived his life like a bottle rocket, short fuse and all. Once he’s lit you just can’t stop it, that ain’t his fault).
“Sevens” sounds the most radio-ready, in comparison to other current indie rock bands experiencing airplay. The middle of the track slows down, and the focus shifts to the vocals. This is a definite contrast for a band that you can’t always make out the lyrics after first or second listen. The attention to this detail signals a weighted meaning that wasn’t always present in the happy-go-lucky ‘easy’ songs leading up to this one.
“Blame” pays homage to the early nineties/grunge/alt-rock days. Mid-twenty-year-olds can still experience that teenage angst every now and then. Exhibit A — this song. (Blame me, blame your mother, blame anyone that you want).
“The One” is a stark contrast ballad that slows down the otherwise fast-paced record. This one just doesn’t seem to fit on the album, though. I can picture the song on a soundtrack to a ‘90s high school prom dance movie scene, with a dapper dreamboat Freddie Prinze Jr. dancing on the gym floor, with a dorky girl he just now realized he’s always loved. See, now that makes sense. I’m sure there’s a story behind this one, and I’m just trying to connect the dots. For now, I’m a little lost with this track though.
The album ends with “Don’t be Sad,” led fearlessly by funeral organ sounds. (Well don’t be ashamed if you’re seeking a friend, it’s a beautiful reason to die in the end. it’s why we’re all here, just searching mistakes).
(We’re destined to be little stains in the pane, pick us and chip us and throw us away. Some color will shine through from some yesterday, so you never forget where you came from).
Just as the dusty organs still echo down the halls of a church, if you once were blind to the gritty yet graceful Mississippi band The Weeks, chances are, by the final note on the album, you now see the light. How sweet the sound.