[FOLK ROCK] "Is it better to leave me alone?," sings Adam Shearer on "Hardly Worth Saving," the third and best song on his band Weinland's heartbreakingly gorgeous new record Breaks in the Sun. It's a question all songwriters inevitably ask themselves; how completely do you throw yourself into your music? It turns out Shearer knew the answer all along. "Just the way it was, the way it's always been/ Then I can give my heart to rock and roll."
On Breaks in the Sun, Shearer is finally submitting himself to his music. The record comes with a hardy backstory: Weinland booked and arrived at Type Foundry studios in early October without a single note written and spent the next two weeks drinking whiskey, sleeping on couches, and laying to tape the most striking and immediate songs of its career.
From the opening, mournful acoustic strums of "Sunken Eyes" to the naked drum march that closes "Piano Hymn," Breaks in the Sun is a huge step up from last year's La Lamentor, which had a few gems but was buried under one too many mid-tempo sleepers. The band has finally given in to its rock urges, infusing smoky numbers like "I'm Sure it Helps" with lazy dobro and overdriven guitar—check out the wicked solo three minutes in—and finding the right balance between sepia-toned, slow-moving ballads ("I Feel Wasted") and chiming, nearlyupbeat rays of sunlight ("People Like You"). Shearer's characters are still morose and struggling, but it's good to know he's found hope in the likeliest of places: his music.
[OREGON DREAMING] Eat Skull is all about the subtleties. The band's new record, Wild and Inside, doesn't provide a change in the Portland lo-fi garage quartet'ssound as much as a refinement; Eat Skull still writes jangly little pop songs, but this time they're not pushed into the red as much as into the gray. "Cooking a Way To Be Happy" and "Heaven's Stranger" are darker and cleaner around the edges than anything off Eat Skull's previous full-length, Sick to Death, but still hardly pristine.
Wild and Inside is the kind of record that sounds fantastic on a worn and dusty turntable, but awkward over a pair of laptop speakers. It's also pretty front-loaded, with two of the best songs (the pogoing and infectious "Stick to the Formula" and the short and punchy "Nuke Mecca") coming in the first 10 minutes. Most surprising is the slow and barely-there "Talkin' Bro in the Wall Blues," a fine rendering of a Clean song but one that should logically end at two minutes instead of just over three. Wild and Inside is uneven, but the seeds of a really great record are in place.
at Mississippi Studios, Saturday, April 11. 7 10 pm. $10. 21+. Eat Skull plays the Yetifest at Holocene, Friday, April 10. 8:30 pm. $10. 21+.