Weston – The Massed Albert Sounds

The Massed Albert Sounds

Sometimes, an album is just fun. Sometimes, the first listen makes you sit up, switch off Jerry Springer, spill your Yoo-Hoo on your lap, and take notice. Weston’s latest album is one of those. There’s something intrinsically fun to this album, something that makes you want to listen to it again and again and sing along. When an album can make you do that even on the first listen, you know it’s something special.

Weston remind me a lot of one of my favorite power-pop-rock bands, Fig Dish. Like Fig Dish, Weston’s music is somewhere between playful pop, all-out rock, and even some punk/hardcore leanings. The band sounds just as good when playing light, playful songs as the noisy rockers. The best part about Weston, however, is the harmonies. All four members of the band sing, either providing backup harmonies, backing “na-na-na”s, or singing together. And it works perfectly!

“Just Quit Rock and Roll” starts out light-hearted and poppy, with lots of keyboards adding a playful background to the moments of driving guitars. And the “na-na-nas” are a nice touch. “To Some I’m Genius” is one of my favorites, as this one highlights the harder side of the band. Starting with soft strings and bursting into all-out rock with blazing guitars and pounding rhythms, the vocals even get up to screams by the end, which is especially intense. There’s a little Samiam feel here, which is relevant, as Weston toured with that band. “Kiss Like an Angel” has moments of brilliant power-rock and moments of hushed almost whispers. “Wondering” showcases the quieter side of the band. It’s a more hushed and contemplative song, with gorgeous singing and a more atmospheric sound that does pick up by the end. But the pop comes back on the fun and witty “Radio” and the rock kicks in on the fun and fast “Summer’s Over.” One of the best songs here, a charming and slightly pathetic missive to their favorite singer, “Liz Phair” is an instant sing-along. “I sure think we would make a real cool pair / you can sing your songs, I can sit and stare,” lead singer James Snyder sings wistfully. “You Haunt Me” is another soft and quiet one, with nice atmospheric keyboards to lend the song a more wistful tone. But the rock comes back at full-blast on “El Differente,” starting off very powerful and building to screams by the end of this intense track. “Volume Hater” makes the best use of Beatles-esque harmonies and even trumpets for another playful pop-rock song. And the album closes with a quiet reprise of “I Just Quit Rock and Roll.”

Weston recorded this album in no more than two takes to give it a more live feel, and they added extra instrumentation to fill out the sound. Well, it worked for them, because you get an album that is raw and powerful yet still poppy and pleasurable. Also, the album has the perfect flow, moving from slower songs to faster to slower without surprising you by a rapid change in pace. Weston’s been around for almost a decade now, and it’s a shame this is the first I’ve heard of them. But this is a great place to start.