REVIEW: Weatherbox – Follow The Rattle Of The Afghan Guitar

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Artist: Weatherbox
Album: Follow the Rattle of the Afghan Guitar
Genre: Rock
Label: Youth Conspiracy Records

The intriguingly titled EP Follow the Rattle of the Afghan Guitar is a good, enjoyable release filled with soul-searching and furtive glimpses forward and back. The songs are slow-burning and jazzy, doing their utmost to get the listener bopping, but the EP is a little too ordinary and everyday in its execution to really appeal to me. I like the loose, cool sound and it does make for a relaxing listen, but it doesn’t seem to be saying or doing anything new or particularly spectacular.

“Secret Muslim” sets the tone for the EP, with a laid-back, even swagger making for a thought-provoking, if lethargic beginning. It builds upon this gradually, unleashing its guitars properly later in the song to give it a little more power, though it remains quite content to conjure a relaxed and searching vibe. The music is littered with hazy, decorative solos and it switches its tempo a bit before it ends, letting the tone become a little more playful. “My Head” takes this burgeoning opus and, while not quite unfurling an ambitious swell, does move things up a notch. The guitars rush and power up during the chorus and breakdown, providing an energetic cluster of sound for the jovial vocals of Brian Warren.

“Mountain” provides a glimpse of something a bit more masterly. It’s slow and a bit distant to start, the vocals fading in dreamingly and singing with a wistful longing for times and people past. This track has, perhaps, a more tangible emotional tint in it, as the opening currents are affecting, the loose sound allowing the listener to get lost in the swell. It changes style dramatically as it proceeds – the guitars and vocals becoming more potent and lending new dynamism to the track. It has a rather genial charm and its snaking rhythm easily gets under your skin, engaging in a manner that the first two tracks didn’t quite manage.

“Heavy Map” doesn’t quite build on this promise. It’s beautifully atmospheric, marked by periodic build ups and climactic rolls of percussion that then feed back into uncertainty. This gives it an intense sound that gradually absorbs, but the frequent changes in pace and intensity make it a little uneven. It’s at least thought-provoking, if not quite momentous enough to love (the lengthy fade out verges on pompous). “Broken Glowsticks” is beautiful. The exotic bass line which opens gives it a firm sense of self which the dark, acerbic vocals build upon ably. It’s a lot more invigorating than what has gone before, focusing more on bathing the listener in swathes of urgent sound, though it’s not without an afterthought. The latter part is tinged with a lighter, more introspective vibe, somewhat at odds with the insistent and irreverent tone that opened. It’s in moments like this that the EP feels a bit sloppy; setting off on something of a tangent, without any real point.

“The Bullets” then is a fairly gentle love song of sorts, combining rosy guitar work and a lovely bass overlay with twinkling effects and earnest vocals. It’s a little long considering it doesn’t have that much to say, but it is nice. It ends the record in much the same way as it started, with a very summery, breezy sound and leisurely attitude. The little jazzy pick-ups in pace here and there make it a bit funkier.

This is a smokey, somewhat glamorous EP with plenty to love if you want something smooth and gentle to fade out your last few summer nights. You may have to be in a certain kind of mood for it to leave a mark, and something about it is a little formulaic for my liking, but if you do let it speak to you you’ll be swept away. Capable, but unremarkable.

SCORE: 7/10
Review written by: Grace Duffy

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • George Lattimore

    Decent review, but your remarkable lack of effort in connecting the sounds/feel with the lyrics and intention of the artist is ultimately disconcerting, and robs Weatherbox of their knockout punch.  By describing only your feel (“Smooth and gentle”????), the meaning and drive of each track, and the EP as a whole, is cowardly left out. 
    With a band like Weatherbox, IMO, the originality sparks from the desperately humanistic, counter-culture intentions of Brian Warren, who is constantly challenging the comfortable listener to think deeper and wider. “Formulaic”?  Do you hear any other bands in America proclaiming themselves (proudly) as Secret Muslims, or asking the listener to Follow the Rattle of the Afghan Guitar when we’re still at war?  Can’t you feel the empowering urgency to make something personal and genuinely honest that isn’t polished like a digital shoe for the masses?
    It seems to me in general that this review is a prime example of why Weatherbox isn’t a more popular band.  People don’t want to dig deeper, or understand another side to the story, or “Follow the Rattle of the Afghan Guitar”.  Listeners are lazier than ever, and the rest gets swept under the rug.

    Sorry for the rant- but if I don’t speak up, who will?

  • Amelia Bedelia

     Please, don’t make the post-American Art years any worse than they already are. Remember when Brian Warren played acoustic shows?

  • George Lattimore

    He still does.  Sorry you don’t enjoy how they’ve evolved.