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The Weakerthans - Reunion Tour (Cover Artwork)

The Weakerthans

The Weakerthans: Reunion TourReunion Tour (2007)
Anti- Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


Contributed by: adamAdam
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Despite the sheer reverence shown for the Winnipeg act, the Weakerthans are really a delightfully simple band. Particularly in Canada the indie scene's treated them with the acclaim afforded to bands like Broken Social Scene and the Arcade Fire: the luminaries. While I'd argue that John K. Samson an.
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Despite the sheer reverence shown for the Winnipeg act, the Weakerthans are really a delightfully simple band. Particularly in Canada the indie scene's treated them with the acclaim afforded to bands like Broken Social Scene and the Arcade Fire: the luminaries. While I'd argue that John K. Samson and company certainly deserve it, they're clearly of a different breed. When I listen to those bands I'm well aware that I'm listening to art, intentional art, and the bands know it. The Weakerthans? They're a rock band. They play rock songs. However literate their songwriter, however many roots tangents they travel, that's always been the case. Reunion Tour rides a wave of anticipation but it delivers exactly what makes this four-piece so endearing: touching, exciting, and accessible rock music.

I live in Reunion Tour's world. It's the band's most identifiably Canadian record, but it's hardly nationalistic. It's the setting. It fleshes out Samson's characters. It's remarkable how a quick reference to Ontario's goods and services tax is far more effective and genuine than the chest-thumping civic pride we hear from so many street punks. I take pleasure in the fact that somewhere in the southern U.S. there's a listener simply baffled by the word "bonspiel." The Canadian winter's a reoccurring theme, a bit of pathetic fallacy to play against the record's imperfect, flawed characters. Samson's songs are cautionary, with his subjects suffering through the inertia of their lives, whether it's retreating to the bar at the curling club or neglecting their too-wise cat. Winter suits them.

That feline survives 2003's Reconstruction Site, which also donates its well-orchestrated, lush instrumental approach to Reunion Tour. The poetic "Elegy for Gump Worsley" is a bit of a throwback to Left and Leaving, a hockey-minded sonic successor to "Without Mythologies." Midtempo rockers like "Sun in an Empty Room" and "Night Windows" make up the meat of Reunion Tour, which is perhaps only lacking a few songs with the pop-punk energy of "Our Retired Explorer" or "Aside."

However Reunion Tour won't share in the acclaim of the past two records, at least not at first. Like Reconstruction Site, it's going to be met with disappointment, at least initially. That's how this band works though: They don't write the songs that blow your mind when you first hear them -- they write the songs that become the pillars of your regular listening library for years to come. Is this the, er, weaker Weakerthans full-length? It's certainly the most economic and succinct.

Let's talk again in around a few months; I'm willing to bet these songs will have firmly rooted themselves in your life by then.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
The Weakerthans - Reconstruction SiteThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!The Weakerthans - Left and LeavingAlkaline Trio - GoddamnitThe Lawrence Arms - The Greatest Story Ever ToldAgainst Me! - As The Eternal CowboyThe Weakerthans - FallowThe Gaslight Anthem - Sink or SwimAgainst Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseJawbreaker - 24 Hour Revenge Therapy

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
champion_sound (September 20, 2012)

love it

kylewagoner (January 16, 2009)

1. Left and Leaving
2. Reconstruction Site
3. Reunion Tour
4. Fallow

Uhh!

cannsaw (August 29, 2008)

1. Left & Leaving
2. Fallow
3. Reunion Tour
4. Reconstruction Site

All excellent.

i-hate-winnipeg (November 23, 2007)

and since everyone else is doing it:

1.) Fallow (10)
2.) Left and leaving (9.9)
3.) Reunion Tour (9.8)
4.) Reconstruction Site (9.7)

:)

i-hate-winnipeg (November 23, 2007)

an absolutley amazing album.

notfeelingcreative (October 10, 2007)

Amazing album, not quite as good as 'Left and Leaving', but definitely tied with 'Reconstruction Site' for me, I'm not a big 'Fallow' fan.

PervyD (October 5, 2007)

This album had me all excited when I heard the release date, and I am stoked to say it didn't disappoint. Even the spoken word story is entertaining, and the songs flow easily in and out. Great diverse rock album.

whatchokesbegin (October 2, 2007)

For those unsure about Virtute, look no further than the discography on the band's website. No big deal, but case closed.

Scruffy (October 2, 2007)

Ok cool. I did exactly that. I thought you meant that the word wasn't supposed to be the cat's name, not that the word was not "virtue". Got it.

SumWon (October 2, 2007)

Oh ok, gotcha. I thought you were saying there's no connection between the two.

Villan (October 2, 2007)

"I think it's clearly supposed to recall the word 'virtue.'"

That was precisely my point. On first read of the song title people WANT to see Virtue not Virtute, and subconciously remove the T.

The translation factor (Latin to English) isn't the issue.

SumWon (October 2, 2007)

I think it's clearly supposed to recall the word 'virtue.' The cat clearly personifies (felinifies?) virtue, so I dont know what the one guy's point was about people seeing what the wanna see. I didnt notice til I saw them last year when JKS introduced the song, pronouncing it "Virtutay" or something similar.

baseball (October 2, 2007)

I think they mean that people always seem to forget the extra t. It isn't Virtue - it's VirtuTe.

hah, this is the first time i noticed this....i feel pretty stupid now

Deadpan (October 2, 2007)

I think they mean that people always seem to forget the extra t. It isn't Virtue - it's VirtuTe.

Anyway, this album is amazing. Too short though.

Scruffy (October 2, 2007)

"What I find weird is the number of people who think the cat's name is Virtue...I guess we see what we want to see."

Please enlighten me as to what you mean. "Plea from A Cat Named Virtue", "Virtue The Cat Explains Her Departure". Seems pretty obvious to me. Am I missing something, or are you reading into it too much?

the_problem_with_fire (October 1, 2007)

Just got this and I'm really enjoying it. Bigfoot is an incredible song. Catch the interview John did with NPR if you haven't heard it yet.

name (October 1, 2007)

Of course, as soon as I think I have an unshakeable "Best of 2007" list going, here comes the Weakerthans coming out of nowhere with another good old-fashioned dependable rocker.

Sink Or Swim>Reunion Tour>New Maps Of Hell

Please, don't break out the tar and feathers just yet. You'll agree with me in five years.

baseball (October 1, 2007)

Did this come out on Anti- in Canada? My copy has nothing about Anti-...just Epitaph.

i have a US copy and the Anti- logo is on the back cover along with the Epitaph logo

GlassPipeMurder (October 1, 2007)

Did this come out on Anti- in Canada? My copy has nothing about Anti-...just Epitaph.

SloaneDaley (October 1, 2007)

in the world of popular music, punk or otherwise there are few bands that can touch the Weakerthans in terms of crafting completely enjoyable and engaging material. This album is no exception, and anyone who doesn't see that is bafling.

pinkerton (October 1, 2007)

i think that to really enjoy this album you have to buy it. while i agree with the review about the band being simple, i thnk that what really makes this record great are the background keyboards, and also the quality of the guitar sounds. on websites that stream songs, these details are lost.

thanks for putting this out anti.

1)left and leaving
2) reunion tour
3) reconstruction site
4) fallow

Villan (October 1, 2007)

Definitely in my top 10 list for this year.

A beautiful record that just gets better with every listen.

What I find weird is the number of people who think the cat's name is Virtue...I guess we see what we want to see.

xote (September 30, 2007)

*does sound

xote (September 30, 2007)

I'm not a fan of this band but don't really dislike them at all. This album is a good fall pop record but nothing more than that. It does not sound very candian which is funny but cool haha.

satanicsurferz (September 30, 2007)

"Did anyone else have trouble finding this album (in physical form)?"

My usual record store only had two copies on the release date... and they used to have plenty of copies of Reconstruction Site when it came out.

ForgetThisPlace (September 30, 2007)

I love this. It's a very "fall going into winter" album and it's perfect right now.

humberthumbert (September 30, 2007)

Did anyone else have trouble finding this album (in physical form)? Plan 9 in Richmond only had one copy on the release date, and fuck if I'm going to Best Buy.

Super good, though. My list:

1) Left and Leaving & Reconstruction Site (10s)
2) Fallow & Reunion Tour (close to 10s)

damo (September 30, 2007)

good review. However, if there's a band I try to avoid hearing it's these

greg0rb (September 29, 2007)

Adam - great review. I totally got what you were sayin about them being so simple. I love how in the intro of Night Windows the bass plays a melody line that the guitar later picks up. Very simple, but when a band like Arcade Fire does it, it would go from like accordion over to say, French Horn. Still awesome, just more 'artsy'. I'm really likin this album so far, by the way.
Greg

whatchokesbegin (September 29, 2007)

This is easily their best album. Strange that more people don't think so.

adam (September 29, 2007)

I think this might become an "art" vs. "craft" discussion.

I should probably have qualified my use of the word. When I refer to art I mean the perception that the band is "being artistic" (more so than just a "normal" rock band) by breaking from the conventions of the style. A band's experimentalism thus gets their audience to perceive them as "artistic." It's a reputation thing.

My point was that the Weakerthans work within the structure and form of the rock song and achieve brilliance nonetheless. They don't attempt to sound overtly artistic with the goal of sounding artistic.

It's more a statement on the band's intent. I agree with you that the Weakerthans IS art.

-adam

SumWon (September 29, 2007)

I'm not arguing that this isn't art, I'm arguing that art isn't the end goal of the band. The Weakerthans arn't sacrificing being a good accessible rock band for the sake of art. The song is the goal here.

Now I love BSS, don't get me wrong, but they're clearly experimenting and breaking that rock band model for the sake of art. For them, art is the goal, the rock band is just the medium.

-adam


I respectfully disagree. How is a song not art? An accessible rock band is no less artistic than an experimental, mold breaking "sake of art" band if the end result is pleasing to the ears. Writing an accessible song that can stand repeated listening is an admirable goal that takes a lot of mastery of one's craft.

Scruffy (September 29, 2007)

Or some of us accepted the change that was Reconstruction Site and looked at it for what it was, not what we wanted it to be.
I bought Left and Leaving within a month or two after its release, and Fallow shortly thereafter. Fallow shows a band unsure of exactly who they are, stranded somewhere between the punk Samson came from and where they would go. Maybe you give it too much credit, because you're refuse to look at it critically, in hindsight?
Left and Leaving was great, but the second half drags, and I've heard similar stuff before.
Reconstruction Site took me about a year to really, fully get into 100%. Sure, their older stuff is excellent, but I've yet to hear another artist that could even touch a song like Hospital Vespers or Plea From A Cat Named Virtue. Left and Leaving and Fallow were high watermarks in a sound already well-explored. Reconstruction Site is an album no one has ever made but The Weakerthans. It is one of the most unique, poetic and personal albums I have ever heard. The instrumentation, lyrics, vocal delivery, track order, EVERYTHING is as good as it could be.

leecorsoisapenis (September 29, 2007)

"reconstruction site was a colossal disappointment"

While I don't totally agree with DrGunn that it was a colossal disappointment, when you've been waiting years for your favorite band to release a new album, it fell short. I think a lot of people hold reconstruction site so high because it is the album that got them into the band. Those that purchased Fallow when it was released knew this band was onto something. Everyone knew Left and Leaving was going to be a huge step up, and it was. Reconstruction Site doesn't even come close to Fallow, and especially not to Left and Leaving. Reunion Tour is a step up from Reconstruction Site, especially as far as the lyrics go, but what is the deal with the length? They could have thrown a few more songs on there. Come on fellas, we've been waiting forever!

Jim

Scruffy (September 29, 2007)

"1. Reconstruction Site (10)
2. Left And Leaving (8.5)
3. Reunion Tour (8)
4. Fallow (7)

-Scott"

Quoted for truth. Reconstruction Site is one of the best albums ever recorded by anyone. It's definitely in my top five.

disko (September 28, 2007)

I think what makes the Weakerthans so special is that they don't have to try to make art. John K. writes songs from his heart about what he knows best and that honesty makes everything he touches incredibly compelling.

As far as I can tell, the only thing that keeps Reunion Tour from being really special is its length. Another couple songs of the caliber of Night Windows or Civil Twilight and this may have been their best album to date. I'd say that there are three or four songs on this record that rate up there with any song they've ever recorded. It feels incredibly good to hear some new songs and catch the band touring again.

I'd rate the records..

Left & Leaving (10)
Reconstruction Site (9.5)
Fallow (9.5)
Reunion Tour (9)

DarrenMcLeod (September 28, 2007)

Reconstruction Site (10)
Reunion Tour (8.5)
Left and Leaving (8)
Fallow (7)

SumWon (September 28, 2007)

I agree about Bigfoot! being the best on here.

I'd rank em:

1. Left & Leaving
2. Reunion Tour
3. Reconstruction Site
4. Fallow

That's so difficult to do, it hurts. Putting an album as good as Fallow at the bottom of any list just seems wrong. 2 & 3 might switch places once the 'honeymoon period' wears off.

theotherivan (September 28, 2007)

Tournament of Hearts=Canadian

Constantines reference? toUrnament? lovely

i-type-poorly (September 28, 2007)

Bigfoot is contender for song of the year. Though this album is like a weaker (no pun intended) version of Reconstruction Site, but with a bit less variety. Tournament of Hearts has similar vocal progressions to Time's Arrow, and the chorus to Civil Twilight sounds a bit too similiar to This is A Fire Door. It's still a lovely album, and John K is still the best songwriter kicking around today; and it stads up to the rest of their catalogue... I guess I'm just a bit disappointed it didn't go above and beyond.

1) Reconstruction Site
2) Left & Leaving
3) Reunion Tour
4) Fallow

usversusthem (September 28, 2007)

Love this album. Elegy for Gump Worsley was the first song I listened to, and it reminded me of why I love John K. Samson so much (besides his skinny, honest good looks)... it's nice to see someone with a knack for poetry and a very, very Canadian set of cultural references... not because I like Canada but because I live here and I never see anyone do it as well as John K. does.

PaC (September 28, 2007)

Has anyone heard of the band Dud? If I remember correctly, john Samson was in that band when still in Propagandhi. I was wondering if they had ever released anything.

adam (September 28, 2007)

I'm not arguing that this isn't art, I'm arguing that art isn't the end goal of the band. The Weakerthans arn't sacrificing being a good accessible rock band for the sake of art. The song is the goal here.

Now I love BSS, don't get me wrong, but they're clearly experimenting and breaking that rock band model for the sake of art. For them, art is the goal, the rock band is just the medium.

-adam

drewl (September 28, 2007)

Narrow definition of art man.

This record is pure poetry.

Reunion Tour LYRICS > Arcade Fire or Broken Social Scene's MUSIC

and OBVIOUSLY:

Reunion Tour lyrics >>>> Those dudes' lyrics and I'd argue those of basically anyone making rock music right now.

maverick (September 28, 2007)

1. Reconstruction Site (10)
2. Left And Leaving (8.5)
3. Reunion Tour (8)
4. Fallow (7)

-Scott

baseball (September 28, 2007)

great review Adam

this definitely picks up where Reconstruction Site, one of my favorite albums ever, left off...this album just feels a little bit short to me, i guess i just wanted a little more...maybe a 12th track would do it

that being said, there's not a single bad song on this album and "Virtue the Cat Explains Her Departure" "Civil Twilight" "Night Windows" are some of the best they've ever written by far

one of the best albums this year

adam (September 28, 2007)

Some thoughts that didn't make it into the review:

1) I still geek out that there's a song called "Elegy for Gump Worsley," as there's a fantastic old instrumental tune from Huevos Rancheros called "Gump Worsley's Lament." If you want some background on the Worsley facts that Samson lists ("strictly a whiskey man," "my face is my mask") hit the Wikipedia. It's all there.

2) "Night Windows" has been played live for a few years and it (when I saw the band last, at least) had this quick hand clapping part that I wish they kept. The song sounds like it's missing it to me, so I'll forever be doing it myself and looking like a maniac to whoever's watching me.

3) Curling songs make the world a better place.

-adam

booker_pee (September 28, 2007)

This band can not do anything wrong...and they never have. All albums are 10's.

the bassline from "Night Windows" is incredible.

skaboom (September 28, 2007)

I'd put this just behind Left and Leaving which, in my mind, is flawless. I wish there replaced a mid-tempo song or two with a harder-edged song, though Relative Surplus Value gets close.

You're right about this sounding like a very Canadian record. It's hard to pinpoint why, exactly. It feels very big and open.

Needless to say, Virtute is simply heartbreaking to anyone who has ever owned a cat.

DrGunn (September 28, 2007)

"...how?"

it's all just opinion, but i found the song-writing on reconstruction site to be extremely weak and the lyrics trite and downright cloying (see the reasons and plea from a cat named virtue).

dusticles (September 28, 2007)

Like Reconstruction Site, it's going to be met with disappointment, at least initially. That's how this band works though: They don't write the songs that blow your mind when you first hear them -- they write the songs that become the pillars of your regular listening library for years to come

I couldnt have put it any better. I didnt like this album when it first leaked...but I have been listening to it a lot recently. Civil Twilight is a killer song though.

wildo (September 28, 2007)

1) Left and Leaving
2) Fallow
3) Reunion Tour
4) Reconstruction Site

tommytumult (September 28, 2007)

I've been listening to this album for the better part of a month now and I can't wait for it to be released stateside on vinyl.

It seems like no one likes Elegy for Gump Worsley except me. It's probably because I'm a sucker for songs with hockey references. It's not the best song on the album, but it's not a bad one, either.

GlassPipeMurder (September 28, 2007)

reconstruction site was a colossal disappointment

...how?

PersonalResponsibility (September 28, 2007)

This album is good. But I grew tired of it too fast, I'll start listening to it again in a couple of weeks.

1) Left and Leaving
2) Reconstruction Site
3) Reunion Tour
4) Fallow

I think anyway.

DrGunn (September 28, 2007)

i'm sort of nervous about this. reconstruction site was a colossal disappointment and frankly i've never fully understand the reverence given to that album. worried about plunking down for this one and getting another dud.

youwinalemon (September 28, 2007)

"I take pleasure in the fact that somewhere in the southern U.S. there's a listener simply baffled by the word "bonspiel." "
'Sup. When I listen to that song, a thought process in my mind just goes off and states "curling reference, curling reference, metaphor for life and relationships within curling reference, curling reference." That said, that song's also one of my favorites on the album.

Great album, just like all Weakerthans albums before it. It's hard to rank this in comparison to other releases, as the last line of this review is completely, totally on the money, but here it goes:

1) Reconstruction Site
2) Left and Leaving
3) Reunion Tour
4) Fallow

sweetsuperior (September 28, 2007)

great review. great album.

satanicsurferz (September 28, 2007)

Good album but...
1. Left and Leaving (10)
2. Fallow (9)
3. Reconstruction Site (8)
4. Reunion Tour (7)

GlassPipeMurder (September 28, 2007)

well, we might as well get the lists going now:
1. Reconstruction Site (10)
2. Fallow (9)
3. Reunion Tour (8)
4. Left and Leaving (8) - lyrics are great but not really into the tunes

TheMarc (September 28, 2007)

Yup. Awesome stuff!

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