Weakened Friends - Common Blah (Cover Artwork)

Weakened Friends

Common Blah (2018)

Don Giovanni Records

There are those times in life where the malaise is put on thick. Waking up requires safety pinning your eyelids open with the recognition you only have a handful of ‘fuck yous’ to get you through the day. The feeling is heavy like a giant, wet blanket draped on your day collecting water from the grey skies above. It’s a feeling we’ve all had, it’s collective existential dread isolated, it’s a common blah. With their debut album, Weakened Friends are addressing that head on, in both sound and scope. Coincidentally enough, said album is titled Common Blah.

Weakened Friends occupy interesting territory, able to play both The Fest and the Paris Pitchfork Music Festival upon the release of this album. Signed to Don Giovanni Records, the three piece from Portland, Maine are quickly carving out their brand of rock ‘n’ roll. Common Blah opens up with the pop soaked grunge of “Peel.” With a crunchy downstroke, the song contains spooky ambience flowing through 90s alternative rock oozing with apathy. It’s a clear influence given the featured shredding from J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. fame on “Hate Mail.” The album is not lost in the 90s though. It treads towards post-hardcore in the sense Motion City Soundtrack fit that description and finds the likeminded drive of Cloud Nothings towards the back end. See “Younger.”

There is fervor on Common Blah that underwrites many of the songs. Vocalist/guitarist Sonia Sturino has a voice that brings a dynamic element to the album. Focusing squarely on the vocals, the inflections don’t sound too far off from the likes of those found Tragic Kingdom. It definitely breathes life into the songs. On “Blue Again,” you can hear the quiet-loud dynamics of the Pixies coming through. It doesn’t hurt that the song sounds similar to them either. There are glimpses of giant, mainstream alternative rock appeal poking through in certain moments. Annie Hoffman’s slinky bass lines and Cam Jones’ big rock beats are key to this.

While the grunge inspirations sonically signal malaise, the lyrics drive it home. Life’s in-betweens found in your mid-twenties are well explored in Common Blah. Chalking up her apathy to being stuck in the middle, Sturino sings “I’ll make my mom less worried / about what I’m not doing with my time / I’ll be a better person / one that’s worth you giving all your time.” The path to hell is, of course, paved with best intentions. On “Not Doing Good,” she admits “I want to tear it all down / into a thousand tiny pieces / I’ve fucked it all up.”

Common Blah treads the same water many young adults find themselves in. The seemingly never ending rainy grey skies have filled oceans to the brim with directionless anxiety. We’re stuck flailing in it. With this release, Weakened Friends offer some relief in the commonality of it all.