By Less Lee Moore
5. Weep is completely without marketing savvy and has no idea how to “make-it”. Therefore: your love of Weep will never be sullied. You can always enjoy your hip status of loving an underground band.
—From the Weep Manifesto
Let’s get this out of the way first: Weep is a band from New York which includes Doc Hammer, he of Venture Bros. fame and the object of much fangirl (and fanboy) love the world over. Now that we’ve covered that, let’s also address the probability that there a lot of people are going to pretend to like Weep because it is Doc Hammer’s band. But they would be wrong to do so.
For one thing, Weep is not Doc’s vanity project; even though there are many photos of him on their MySpace page, there are equally as many photos of the other members of the band—Fred Macarag, Alex Malfunction, and Bill Kovalcik—as there are of Mr. Hammer. And all have suitably witty and self-deprecating captions.
Indeed, Doc Hammer is a person who seemingly cannot breathe without being witty. Yet, those fans I spoke of earlier? They’d be wrong to pretend to like Weep’s debut album, Never Ever, simply because Doc Hammer has a terrific sense of humor. Those fans will probably be quite surprised to find they like it because it’s actually a good album.
There’s a lot going on in these eight songs: I sense snippets of influence from My Bloody Valentine, Sisters Of Mercy, Cocteau Twins, and late ’80s The Cure. In fact, Weep sounds like they like all of these bands (and more), which is in no way an insult, especially for those of us who also like all those bands and never stopped listening to those bands, long after the ’80s had ended.
The first track, “Lay There And Drown” recalls “Someone’s Calling” by Modern English, you know, one of their songs that is not the abysmal “I Melt With You” and is therefore terrific. “Lay There And Drown” is also a terrific song and it introduces what I will refer to henceforth as “Weep’s Signature Drum Sound” (provided by Bill Kovalchik). Since I am not a musician, I can’t give you some fancy term for it, but trust me, when you hear it you will know and love it immediately.
Another thing which may surprise people is Doc’s singing voice. Not to belabor the point by bringing up that whole Venture Bros. thing again, but Doc does not sound like Dr. Girlfriend or Henchman #21. I’m not sure what I expected his singing voice to sound like, but I was startled and surprised. Normally I don’t much cotton to gravelly voices, but guess what? This works for me.
“The Hole” has a pretty waterfall of keyboards, “Weep’s Signature Drum Sound,” and a genuinely catchy chorus. “One Lock, One Key” honestly sounds like some long-lost ’80s track that was discovered in the WTUL New Orleans vaults after their fire in the mid-80s (not to belabor that whole ’80s point again, either). I would not be at all surprised to dig out one of my old taped-from-the-radio mixes and find it sandwiched in between Clan of Xymox and Skinny Puppy’s “Assimilate.” Doc’s voice is ragged here, and I mean that as a compliment. It’s even more ragged on “The Wanting House” where he sings about a house with locked doors and black windows. (If that sounds stereotypically Goth, or whatever you might think Weep is, I direct you once more to their Manifesto, specifically point number 7.)
There is a great, piercing guitar motif in “Ever Shy” and Doc’s vocal, which is reminiscent of Daniel Ash, is pretty (wistful, even), thus making the song even lovelier. I would go so far as to call this song grand. I’ve seen several blog comments and reviews of Never Ever that pay particular attention to “Su Promesa.” These people are wise to mention it, as it’s a great song. There’s a sad-sounding, almost Marco Pirroni-like guitar twang, which builds on a heavy bass sound and another repeating guitar riff to create something which sticks in your ear. And again, it really does feel like 1986 again. Astonishing! (Screw The Killers and all these other lightweights who think they are ’80s revivalists or whatever the hell stupid critics call them.)
My favorites are the last two tracks. “Can’t Be True” begins with almost a full minute’s worth of feedback (and I am a sucker for feedback) and adds layers as it goes. First, a sinister drumbeat, then melancholy guitars, and then swirling keyboards. The robotic, detached sound of Doc’s processed vocals is a superb counterpoint to the pathos of the lyrics. The droning, repetitive build of tension never quite releases you from its grasp, but draws you in until it pushes you closer to a precipice of chiming bells and operatic keyboards. “The Weep” begins with a whining guitar riff and some echoe-y drums and more of that minimalist drone. There are some beautiful jangly guitar bits and sweeping keyboards that make the vocals exquisitely sad and enthralling.
And then it’s over. Drat. But I can always play it again (and again!) and wait for the next Weep album. Believe me, I can’t wait to hear it.
To hear selections from Never Ever and to order the album from Projekt Records, please visit Weep’s MySpace page.