Roe’s Best Albums of 2014: #1 – Flies In All Directions by Weatherbox

Artist: Weatherbox

Album: Flies In All Directions

Produced by: Brian Warren

Released: May 13, 2014

urlI think I could go on and on and on about this album forever. Before this year, I had no knowledge of Weatherbox, who Brian Warren even was but after seeing a few dribs and drabs via social media about the band / this record, I decided to give it a listen. I’m always game for new music, right?

And holy shit I was not expecting to completely fall completely in LOVE.

For me personally, this album was a godsend as I was going through a lot of existential crisis filled with fear, worry, and doubt and this record seemed to be the best tonic I could ever draft up to keep my mind at ease and feel okay. Every lyric became a mantra for me at some point.

Flies In All Directions jams to the beat of its own drum. No rhythm or tempo is the same for too long, lyrics are fresh and perfect, Brian Warren is crystal clear, yet wonderfully non-specific, giving way to mystery.

I fell in love with this band and album so much that I saw them live this summer at Asbury Lanes by myself, as I was unable to convince anyone knew of their absolute genius.

There’re parts of me that want to compare both Brian Warren and Max Bemis of Say Anything in some respects because of the way each of their musical minds work: Both self-produced the albums released this year, there are clever lyricisms abound throughout their work, there are time signature changes, rhythm changes, tempo changes (anomalies not typically seen within this “genre”) – as if both gentlemen are listening to their true human nature, letting the songs come, allowing the music to flow naturally, not conforming to what may be considered to be a pop song or a radio friendly song – and their music flourishes and is fun to listen to because of it! If I’m not mistaken, I believe Weatherbox and Say Anything did tour together at once point but I think I remember reading Brian Warren saying it wasn’t as successful as he had hoped, because as much as him and Bemis are the same, they are also drastically different: Bemis tends to be more biographical, Warren sticks to his metaphors and blurred/ambiguous meaning, during live shows Max utilizes his stage presence, Brian tends to stick to the mic and move around his center here and there, etc.

With that said, I think if you are a fan of Say Anything your interest will definitely be piqued while listening to this record. There are so many wonderful things going on, you need to listen more than once to catch them all. And if you’re not an SA fan, I still think this album holds up incredibly well as an independent entity. If you love and appreciate the craft of songwriting and want to chew on something different, take a listen.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Listen to:

Taylor, What-What-What Are You Doing?

Taylor Swift has one foot in Country, the other in Pop – Okay, maybe both feet in Pop and is in the midst of closing the door on Country. Betraying your roots: First mistake. Although I have to say, I’ve never personally held that against her. Just seems like a natural progression of things once you’ve been in Top40 for awhile. It’s where the money is. And trust me, Taylor Swift is definitely getting a big piece of the pie. When an artist is in Country or Pop (or in her case both), you don’t really need to worry about where the money’s coming from. Your tours will sell out, people will buy your album on iTunes and/or CD, people buy merch, etc. You’ll probably recoup all, if not most of your costs. Why Taylor Swift pulled all of her material from Spotify is beyond me (especially when it was recently announced she would have earned 6 million dollars in a year based on Spotify streams alone?!). Plenty of bands out there touring year-round, making little to nothing have their music on Spotify. Why you gotta be so narrow-minded?

I can’t help but feel I’ve been marginalized by an pretentious, elite 1% prevented to listening and absorbing music through my favorite and most convenient/economical method of doing so – Second mistake. You’ll lose fans and followers that way. She’s pretty much lost me and been a huge fan for about 4 years.

Coincidentally, I actually had planned to listen to 1989 the day she pulled everything. And here I am saying, “she”. Ha! I bet this was all headed up and encouraged by her label, big business, etc. Now I have no plans to listen to it. Guess I’ll never know what it sounds like, Taylor. And I’m not gonna hunt for it on YouTube. What am I, 10?

For such a wonderful young woman, singer-songwriter, musician, and lyricist she sure seems to have the ideals of a white-haired old man (Dare I say, outdated record executive?).

I’m a huge proponent of music subscription streaming sites. I think they’re a great thing that really curbed a lot of illegal downloading and ended up turning a profit for artists who were originally seeing nothing, and brought profits up for artists whose income was on a steady decline. I used to download music illegally – because it was TOO EASY. How could you not? Especially in your teen years when every musical realm was just opening themselves up to you. Boot up Frostwire, Limewire and voila! How else would I have discovered The Beatles, Paul McCartney, Saves The Day, 2Pac, Biggie, etc? I heard a song, liked it, and went to find more. I hunted to complete album tracklistings. I’m a broke teenager. I can’t just buy all the albums that I want to check out. I needed to test the waters first, which is exactly what I can do on Spotify now, legally; I’m sure there’re hundreds of teenagers who are just like my teenage self – searching for more, hungry for another tune to strum on their heartstrings. And Spotify (maybe Pandora and YouTube too) is how they find it.

Let me breakdown two ways where music subscription streaming sites can be beneficial for artists (even if users aren’t paying a cent). These are things I have experienced and wholeheartedly believe:

  1. New discovery can happen within seconds – I was listening to a Spotify curated playlist and ended up listening to this track by DJ named Wax Tailor. I immediately fell in love with it, prompting me to check out his entire discography – which I thoroughly enjoyed. 
  2. Discovery does not have to be restricted to to the Spotify realm, but can result in Facebook likes, Twitter follows, concert attendance, and the eventual purchase of the physical album – This summer I fell in love with an album by band called Weatherbox (a discovery prompted by chatter via other blogs I follow). The record had such a profound impact on me that I bought a ticket to see them live AND THEN bought the vinyl record at the show. 

So maybe it in the future I’ll look for some Weatherbox merch when I have some money to spend. Or maybe if Wax Tailor comes to the States, I’ll be more likely to buy a ticket. This is how to business works now. If the music doesn’t grab me (the consumer), I move on. Why should I commit and invest in a body of work when I don’t even know if I’ll like it? Time and money are more precious now more than ever.

When I like the music or the artist and overwhelming amount, then I will buy the physical copy. If it doesn’t move me, I’ll stream it from time to time, wash my hands, and that’s that.

And Taylor, Spotify is not like stealing a piece of art! Get over yourself! Spotify is like being able to view a work of art that is in a museum, on the Internet. You can still see the painting or the sculpture without having to leave your house or spend a dime, but to experience it – well, you have to go the museum, pay the ticket price, get out of your house. Maybe if it moves you enough, you’ll buy a replica of the piece.

If I were to go to the Met Museum, I would be smart to maybe glance at a few exhibits online and make plans with the intentions to go to that exhibit – because it would be insane for me to peruse the entire museum, hoping something will grab me. There’s too many things there! Like Spotify! Too many artists, too many tracks, not enough time.

Taylor Swift may think she can be an exception because of her elite, A-list status but she just made the worst career move of her life, especially when taking into account her young fanbase. Spotify is the way. iTunes will eventually become near to obsolete and everyone (young and old) is gravitating towards these sites.

Here’s the thing Taylor: I’m not gonna buy your album. And I have 0 plans of seeing you on tour any time soon. When you remove all your music from Spotify like a grump, that’s a turn off. How greedy and self-centered are you? You have enough money as it is. Also, Spotify is not some “grand experiment”; It is a revolutionary tool that is on the road to compensating artists appropriately. The proper wages aren’t there yet. That much is clear. But the more subscribers, the more profit potential there will be in the future. The old model is dead. Stop pretending like it still exists just because you said so.


USA Today: Spotify CEO to Taylor Swift: Isn’t $6 million enough? –http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2014/11/11/spotify-ceo-to-taylor-swift-is-6-million-enough/18854607/

Stereogum: Taylor Swift Discusses Spotify Stance, Swiftamine Sketch –http://www.stereogum.com/1717177/taylor-swift-discusses-spotify-stance-swiftamine-sketch/news/

Weatherbox @ Asbury Lanes – 7/15/2014

Brian Warren

“Every time we headline a show, I’m almost confident no one’s gonna show up,” confesses Weatherbox frontman Brian Warren in between songs.

The crowd looks around and lightly chuckles. It’s hard to believe the thought even crosses his mind. For a dark and stormy Tuesday night, Asbury Lanes holds a sizeable crowd. Everyone is standing shoulder-to-shoulder, eagerly singing along, witnessing in dumbstruck amazement the rhythmic complexity and melodious lines Weatherbox is notoriously known for delivering without fail. Their newest album, Flies In All Directions is an absolute must-listen. Dikembe’s Steven Gray has already termed it, “the album of the decade”.

A mid-July evening in Asbury Park is likely to encounter boardwalk nightlife, beach-goers, and other summertime revelers – but not tonight. Outside it’s bleak and desolate. Lightning repetitively strikes the sky, thunder rolls one boom after another. Beyond the door is a steady remainder of a dissipating torrential downpour, just beginning to slow down from monsoon-like proportions. What were gales of wind, perhaps strong enough to carry someone away to the edge of the coastline and deposit them into the surf, are now dying down to light ocean breezes.

But despite the slightly foreboding, yet fading Day After Tomorrow vibe outside, NJ locals D’Arcy kick off the night, warming up the crowd with throaty yells, guitar solos, and feedback aplenty, all steeped in a 90s Grunge reeducation.

Next up are Asbury natives, Ghost House. Though reminiscent of The Wonder Years, frontman Zach West holds his own as he and guitarist Howie Cohen exchange vocals and sideways glances.

Dikembe3When Dikembe hits the stage, the vibe of the room noticeably changes. The crowd
quickly shuffles closer with rapt attention. After sorting through some minor technical difficulties (frontman Steven Gray’s guitar is uncooperative tonight, prompting him to borrow another from Ghost House), the lads tune up, drummer David Bell removes his shirt, and Dikembe begins. The Gainesville, FL quartet’s new record (Mediumship) is officially out. They play some new songs off it including “24 Karats”, “Gets Harder” and “Donuts In a Six Speed” where many times it appears bassist Randy Reddell’s hands are going to come flying right off from the rapid intensity of his playing. Dikembe’s set is nothing short of electrifying. The heart and soul of their performance is palpable, spawning many
to move about in half-dance, half-head nod. They close out with a powerful cover of “Where Is My Mind” that the Pixies themselves would have little choice but to bow down in humble appreciation and respect. Their departure leaves the crowd hungry for more.

Weatherbox2Before dominating the evening, Weatherbox approaches the stage tweaking their instruments and amps, fiddling with pedalboard settings, getting the tone just right. They immediately launch into “Pagan Baby”, the first track off Flies In All Directions. Brian Warren brazenly sings out: “Baked into the crust, I’m comfy, reading eulogies / You heard I was a nice boy; Well, you didn’t hear it from me”. The rest of the night rolls along without a hitch as Warren leads into more new songs like “Kickflips” and “Drag Out”, complete with the album-identical nearly neverending ending, the crowd screaming in unison, “Maybe magic don’t come back, don’t come back / COME BACK, COME BACK”. At this point, Warren is visibly pouring sweat, his greasy, tangled hair becoming more matted and knotted with each heart-heavy sway. Throughout tWeatherbox3he performance, he bounces between a black and red Telecaster and a semi-hollow body Epiphone with untrimmed strings flailing. He looks like a madman possessed, his troubled soul wrung out to dry. For not having played on the album, Warren’s accompanying band is pretty close to perfect, laying down every lick, fill, and riff with uncanny precision. His eyes wander around the room on “Dark All Night For Us” softly singing, “Don’t suffocate your lungs, hoping to be forever young / You can’t make art in a vacuum state or become something great alone / You need a friend to depend on”. Towards the end of their set, Dikembe’s Steven Gray gets on stage one last time to sing Andy Hull’s (Manchester Orchestra, Bad Books) verse on “The Devil and Whom”, and to the delight of more seasoned Weatherbox fans, the band closes out with “Broken Glowsticks” off EP, Follow the Rattle of the Afghan Guitar.

When Warren sings, “You won’t find a band like mine”, the room nods along in rhythmic testament with knowledge of its inherent truth. Weatherbox is a jeweled ship in an ocean of mediocrity with the ability to quell any storm, so that all may come and bear witness.


Dikembe7Dikembe6 Dikembe1

Weatherbox_Drums AJ_Weatherbox