Weatherbox - The Clearing (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


The Clearing (2006)


Points are really only being taken off here because Doghouse is waaaay too smug in their signing of Weatherbox; they know full well how similar one of their newest bands is to Say Anything, and it's quite obvious they're here to replace their void. However, they're minor points, as there's one other solid band Weatherbox draws from in producing one of the best EPs and surprises of 2006, The Clearing.

Even though we're certainly pegging Weatherbox as a Say Anything sound-alike here, it actually opens up sounding an awful lot like Criteria's "Good Luck" -- vocalist/guitarist Brian Warren even has the sneering, semi-nasal tone down pat as shown in opener "Snakes, Our Ground." Immediately evident is Weatherbox's ability to pull in the listener with powerful, pounding mid-tempo hooks, dragging us along through journeys equal parts fun and smarts, sheepishly nodding towards both the Max Bemis-fronted Say Anything and Criteria's modest rock power. In only three minutes, "The Clearing" weaves a complicated narrative and bustles with admirable, fleeting drums. "Cowboy Mountain" is the token acoustic track, but actually turns out well despite its hokey campfire sing-along vibe. "Atoms Smash" is the absolutely sly, fun closer, wrapping up things wonderfully and completely upbeat.

"The Thinnest of Maps" is an early pinnacle, however. It's as though Weatherbox made sure both the transition to and the chorus is better than most any you'll hear all year, and especially the bridge; Warren's cynical yells of "pills and boats and suns, I'm selling clothes, I'm coming home / I'm wide awake, I'm wide awake" make for quite the emotional, stirring chorus. Then, as if the band's college curriculum consisted entirely of attending and watching live Moneen shows, they explode at the bridge with throat-searing yells of the song title and a perfect vocal trade-off. It's definitely the best The Clearing has to offer.

I like what I said about Weatherbox the first time around and so I'll apply it here: The band's success relies in their hooks capable of reeling in blue whales, soft/loud dynamics capable of setting fires at the bottom of the ocean and some other totally unnecessary nautical metaphor since the artwork features a deer and a bear with no actual ocean critters present. For the first time in over two years, Doghouse has found their way into my heart with something special, and a couple other music nerds are likely to gloat with that same happy astonishment.

Snakes, Our Ground

The Clearing