Weedeater + “Jason The Dragon”

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Posted 26 January 2011   Music Reviews

Being The Bone Reader is a dirty job, but one that has it’s perks. Having the opportunity to get an early listen to Weedeater’s latest is certainly one of them. This may well be one of 2011′s most highly anticipated releases – partially due to the fact that Weedeater has built a back catalog that’s in every discerning stoner’s stash spot.  It might also have something to do with the “near-death by misadventure” that has been a thorn in their collective asses prior to the release of “God Luck And Good Speed” in 2007.  It might be true to say that “Jason…  The Dragon” is a slow burn but as the title suggests, this is something of a deeper buzz.  Taking it one track at a time isn’t the way to go about listening to “Jason…” and doing so is an easy way to miss the point.  In other words… This ain’t sippin’ whiskey!  Chug-a-lug, fuckers!

“The Great Unfurling” is a bizarre way to make an introduction.  With it’s grand title and implications, it had me wondering if it were a part of some kind of grand theme, but not so much, it seems.  S’okay.  Onward we march.

The next four cuts, “Hammerhandle”,  “Mancoon”, “Turkey Warlock” and the title cut are choc full of the piss and black powder, burbon-fueled lunacy that is Weedeater’s stock and trade. This is what Weedeater fans have come to love and expect to hear from these guys.  If you stack them up one against the other or otherwise intend to split hairs about it, that’s one option.  But I’ll simply direct the listener to these four tunes and say that they are on the top shelf for this album.  It’s Weedeater doing what Weedeater does best – simple as that.

“Palms of Opium” is a groggy excursion into the swampland that gives the listener a chance to scratch his or her ass, change the bongwater, pour another tall one (or just grab the bottle) and get back att’er.  The slide guitar ain’t Duane Allman or Robert Johnson but what the hell – Shep never put on those kinds of airs.  Coming in at almost four minutes, it seems to pass quickly and for me, it does what it’s intended to do for the album.

Photo by Markus Shaffer

I’d been able to avoid bringing this up until now, but the promo copy I was given exhibits some weird and easily discernible audio artifacts. “Long Gone” clearly falls prey to this in the opening stretch.  With Steve Albini at the helm and the rest of the recording sounding as good as it does overall, I can’t believe that this would be deliberate so I’m chalking this up to a glitch when the promos were ripped from the master files and mailed out.  If this is not the case and for some reason, these sounds were actually meant to be there, I’d have to ask just exactly what the hell these boys were smokin’.

It seems that some other folks took exception or were a little confused by the brief interlude/drum solo that is “March of the Bipolar Bear”.  Once again, Keith Kirkum isn’t on some prog-rock “mama look at me” drum dynamo type bullshit.  To me, the playing on “Bipolar” has plenty of flair and makes for a good listen.  That said, I think it would have made more sense to place this performance in a different spot on the album to make better use of the dynamic that builds up, or perhaps just as an intro rather than a separate track on it’s own:  While “Homecoming” gets back to the smash-mouth style and some vitriolic ranting by the time it kicks in, there’s a bit of a lull before it really kicks into high gear.

“Whiskey Creek” is an odd duck:  There’s more of the backwoods banjo pickin’ a’la “Palms of Opium” but to be honest, it doesn’t really take me anywhere.  There’s a lull of total silence for well over a minute at which point, someone gets up on the ol’ piano.  Jerry Lee Lewis it ain’t so to be honest, I’ll probably be skipping this one during future listens.  “Homecoming” would have been the way to end things on a high note, but Weedeater are all about excess and aren’t known for quittin’ early.

Overall, this is a predictably fine outing from “Dixie” Dave and the boys and the cover art by Arik Roper is a beauty.  I’d advise longtime fans to steer clear of the urge to compare it to Weedeater’s previous releases.  Not that it’s any sort of radical departure or as some have suggested, a letdown.  To me, “Jason…” simply occupies it’s own space.  Like a few of their iconic labelmates Earth, Boris and Sunn O))) it’s more of an “experience” than a collection of hit singles so just do yourself a favor and relax, pour a tall one and enjoy the ride.

Weedeater + “Jason The Dragon”

Rating 4.0 / 5

Available March 15th, 2011 on Southern Lord

Buy it from Southern Lord

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The big treat that came with this album is the announcement of an extensive tour and I am REALLY excited about the chance to finally see these guys live.  Hallelujah!

WEEDEATER Jason… The Dragon U.S. Tour:
2/18/2011 Soapbox – Wilmington, NC w/ ASG
2/19/2011 Casbah @ Tremont – Charlotte, NC w/ ASG
2/20/2011 Casbah – Durham, NC w/ ASG
2/21/2011 Strange Matter – Richmond VA, w/ ASG
2/22/2011 Sonar – Baltimore, MD w/ ASG
2/23/2011 Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia, PA w/ ASG
2/24/2011 Santos Party House – New York, NY w/ ASG
2/25/2011 The Met – Pawtucket, RI w/ ASG
2/26/2011 Mohawk Place – Buffalo, NY
2/27/2011 Wreck Room – Toronto, ON
2/28/2011 Magic Stick – Detroit, MI w/ Zoroaster
3/01/2011 Abbey Pub – Chicago, IL w/ Zoroaster
3/02/2011 Triple Rock – Minneapolis, MN w/ Zoroaster
3/03/2011 Jackpot – Lawrence, KS w/ Zoroaster
3/04/2011 3 Kings Tavern – Denver, CO w/ Zoroaster
3/05/2011 Burt’s Tiki Lounge – Salt Lake City, UT w/ Zoroaster
3/06/2011 Shredder – Boise, ID w/ Zoroaster
3/07/2011 Funhouse – Seattle, WA w/ Zoroaster
3/08/2011 Rotture – Portland, OR w/ Zoroaster
3/11/2011 Thee Parkside – San Francisco, CA w/ Zoroaster
3/12/2011 Ruby Room – San Diego, CA w/ Zoroaster
3/13/2011 Echoplex – Los Angeles, CA
3/15/2011 Launchpad – Albuquerque, NM w/ Zoroaster
3/18/2011 SXSW @ Dirty Dog – Austin, TX
3/19/2011 Korova – San Antonio, TX w/ Zoroaster
3/20/2011 Siberia – New Orleans, LA w/ Zoroaster
3/22/2011 Orpheum – Tampa, FL w/ Zoroaster
3/23/2011 Backbooth – Orlando, FL w/ Zoroaster
3/24/2011 The Earl – Atlanta, GA w/ Zoroaster
3/25/2011 Ground Zero – Spartanburg, SC w/ Zoroaster
3/26/2011 The Jinx – Savannah, GA w/ Zoroaster