The Weather’s debut album, Calling up My Bad Side
, should be accompanied by a warning: do not listen if you are prone to episodes of depression. Granted I first heard the album on a rainy Sunday afternoon, but after listening I felt like curling up into a ball and pulling the covers over my head. These guys are really trying to capture the post-grunge, melancholy, angst ridden Seattle scene.
The music does seem to portray the mood of a rainy day. Perhaps their name, The Weather, is homage to the dreary, suicide inspiring bleakness of the Pacific North West. So I beg you, please heed my advice and refrain from listening to this album when you’re in a bad mood (unless you enjoy wallowing).
The story behind the creation of Calling up My Bad Side
is interesting. Originally based in Salt Lake City, Weather front man Sean Campbell decided to pack up and head to the Pacific Northwest to cut the album with only original drummer Kerry Cockayne in tow (good call, I’ve heard that Utah can be a little, uh, stifling). While experimenting with their sound at Tacoma’s Spector Studios, Campbell and Cockayne picked up guitarists Tyler Pratt and Joseph Yahann and a bassist in Zach Varnell. Yet here’s where things get interesting: Campbell and Cockayne had already amassed 40 songs of original material that they were practicing with their new band mates until, get this, they heard the Cure for the first time (?????) and, so influenced, decided to scrap their entire repertoire and begin from scratch.
So I’m going to ignore the hearing the Cure for the first time in 2004 issue, otherwise I’ll never get to a review of the album. The cover art of the CD is a good indication of the group’s sound: flowing, pretty, languid and soft. The addition of the piano on every track adds an element of class and beauty.
Although the group describes their sound as “pop-inflected, post-Radiohead inspired rock,” while citing the Cure as their principal influence, I had difficulty hearing anything Cure-like in their music. I found Calling up my Bad Side
more similar to a Coldplay or Travis album, and Weather’s ballads brought me back to the good old days of Def Leppard and Poison.
The tracks all represent one coherent sound, which is the safest bet for a debut, and each song bleeds into the next. The titles of the songs, “Lie to Me,” “The Bitter End,” “Torn Man Down,” indicate the tone of the album; these are not happy songs. Extremely melancholy, the lyrics are about loss, loneliness and betrayal and the music never sounds happy.
“All This Time” is probably the catchiest song on the album. The melody is strong and Campbell’s voice sounds best on this track – it’s a little too Matchbox 20ish for my taste, but not a bad tune. I could see it getting a lot of play on CFOX 99.3. “Texas” and “I-80” are the slowest ballads on the album, and they really push the sentimentality. “Short and Sweet” is by far my favorite track. More up-tempo and a little jazzier, it is the most interesting of all the tracks. Campbell’s voice sounds a little like Dave Matthews in one of his bluesy moments.
For someone who grew up during the height of the Seattle grunge scene and who can remember exactly where she was and what she was wearing when she learned of Kurt Cobain’s untimely death, I’m a little skeptical of this new breed of Seattle rockers; The Weather definitely has the angst down, but their music is a little too unoriginal to hold my attention. It’s definitely not a bad album, but I was just slightly disappointed by the group billed at the next big thing to come out of Seattle.