Toronto’s Weaves Find Their Vulnerable Side On An Eclectic Sophomore Album, ‘Wide Open’

10.04.17 2 months ago

Brendan George Ko

After one EP and two albums, it hasn’t gotten any easier to describe how Weaves sound. The Toronto quartet stand out on their Canadian, American and European labels (Buzz, Kanine and Memphis Industries, respectively), and even in their own city. They revel in their flexibility, a rare ability to marry weird charm with accessibility that keeps them ahead of their peers and my own capacity for finding the right words.

From the 2013 single “Hulahoop” onward, the band have largely been having fun at rock music’s expense, coloring way outside the lines to ever fit neatly into a single category. Vocalist Jasmyn Burke is the unpredictable force that guides and drives each song; guitarist Morgan Waters’ riffs are big rock caricatures, often miming Burke’s own vocal performances as if the two are a couple of kids constantly teasing each other. What holds it all together is their rhythm section, bassist Zach Bines and drummer Spencer Cole give each song a swinging momentum, containing and complimenting Burke and Waters’ animated fluidity within their own sharp rhythmic sensibilities.

If last year’s Polaris-Prize-nominated self-titled debut album revealed the soft gooey center of Weaves’ sound, then Wide Open, which is due out this Friday (but streaming on NPR First Listen right now), finds the band moving further and further away from that point in every direction. This is a record that celebrates choice and opportunity, and Weaves seize it by pushing their sound to further extremes. Lead single “#53” finds the group more straight-faced than ever, demonstrating restraint to support the song’s unabashed earnestness, while the more recent “Scream” has avant throat singer Tanya Tagaq joining up with them to let their freak flags fly.

How do they balance it all without things falling apart? Speaking to songwriters Burke and Waters, the two reveal the secret behind the band’s dynamic, how they opened themselves up to vulnerability with Wide Open‘s more direct lyrics and emotions, and how Weaves are looking to Michael McDonald for inspiration.

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