764-Hero – Weekends of Sound

764-Hero
Weekends of Sound

Without a doubt, Weekends of Sound is the best album of the year so far. This group of nine edgy yet precise indie rock songs should rate right up there with the best of the indie rock veterans, and to be done by a band that is just sort of backing their way into recognition is a pretty impressive feat. In some ways, this album picks up perfectly where their last release, Get Here and Stay, left off. But while that one had emo leanings, this album takes the band’s music to an entirely different level, clean, energetic, and infectious.

Weekends of Sound was produced by Phil Ek, who did the work on most of the Built to Spill releases, and fans of Built to Spill should take to 764-Hero like flies to honey. It’s easy to hear that Built to Spill-style of more mellow indie rock in the subtle guitar riffs and in singer John Atkins’ lofty and charming vocals. But 764-Hero is a younger band, and they show the energy they have on some of the more jarring, driving songs. Drummer Polly Johnson does some amazing work on this album, her rhythm often taking center stage.

“Terrified of Flight” starts things off perfectly, with a head-bobbing and slightly crunchy guitar riff trading off with the vocals. And the drums are just amazing! “Without Fire” reminds me of a Fig Dish song, a completely infectious pop-rock song with some lighter guitars and perfect vocals. “Out Like a Light” is a bit slower and more mellow, but you’ll be swaying with this one regardless, and the blending of guitar and rhythm is reminiscent of some of Modest Mouse’s songs. The title track is probably the best of the bunch, starting off more subtle and slow but picking up with an amazing intensity and driving guitars. The vocals edge on shouts, the guitar starts pounding more intense, and you can’t help but feel this song. It runs the gambit, from intense and driving to softer and prettier, with bells in the background. Atkins sings almost jaded, “Summer takes your hand / this part’s scary / and you think / who’s laughing now? / who’s laughing now?” “Leslie” is much slower, with muffled, echoed vocals and a kind of heartfelt desperation. I hear elements of the grungier side of things on the more edgy “Left Hanging,” which again uses the distorted vocals. And it erupts into throat-wrenching screams, making you pound your fist into the air along. What a great effect! It even breaks down into some more melodic guitar and a swaying beat for the rest of the song’s nine minutes. “You Were the Long Way Home” gets slower and much more like a Built to Spill song. There’s hints of a country-ish twinge on this song, but near as much as I heard on the band’s older albums. And “Something Else” has to be one of the prettiest, deepest songs I’ve heard all year, with Atkins’ vocals allowed to shine and really stretching for feeling, the guitars and soft drums perfect accompaniment. “Blue Light” picks things up again, intense and more driving without getting too fast or heavy. “Over the radio somebody sung / we’ve got arguments and they’ve got guns,” Atkins sings. The lyrics in this one are probably the best on the album, the whole song rocking but not too heavy to lose its pop edge.

Weekends of Sound won’t be released until July 18 with touring in August. With this release, this band is set to follow fellow indie rockers Built to Spill and Modest Mouse to a whole different level (but hopefully not to a major label). The rock is unique and edgy yet still poppy and powerful, and it’s done nearly perfectly on this immaculate release.