Why Listening To Weatherbox’s “Flies In All Directions” Is Absolutely Fucking Necessary
You won’t find a band like mine.
You’re right, Brian, we won’t.
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It is pretty sacrilegious these days to give full thoughts on a leaked album, but, in the case of Flies In All Directions by San Diego’s own Weatherbox, I find it impossible to keep my mouth shut.
I’ve only spent just over 24 hours with the album, but those are 24 hours being completely immersed in it. I can safely say that Flies In All Directions is an extremely dense, layered, and fantastic record. Let me explain why.
Sure, it’s quite common knowledge that Weatherbox's track record of “full lengths” have usually been revered as some of the best of their time. That is to say that both American Art in 2007 and The Cosmic Drama in 2009 are quite possibly the best records of those years. I won’t go into details about why or how, but a quick Google search will explain all of the aforementioned to you. Enter 2014, and we somehow, by the grace of all that is Brian Warren, have a new Weatherbox full-length.
From the very start, it’s familiar Weatherbox. “Pagan Baby” is a song that has been recorded live a few times and is something most fans will be able to instantly recognize. But.. something’s different. Familiar yet different… The production on this album is clearly the best the band has ever had, and Warren’s fantastic guitar tone is now at the forefront of the sonic spectrum, making for one hell of a sound. Production-wise, the band could not sound any better. Then, it’s obvious that this isn’t just a typical “full length”. Flies In All Directions is clocking in at nearly fifty-five minutes. Most bands these days can’t even finish 30 minutes of music before calling it a “full-length”. This is a huge effort from the band, and it shows right off the bat.
But, just after the first half of the record finishes up, which arguably ends with “Radio Hive”, we’re presented with a whole other side of the record. Same Weatherbox, but much more realized.
"The Devil And Whom?" has guest vocalist Andy Hull from Manchester Orchestra making an appearance, but it’s not this fantastic pairing that has me blown away. It’s the off-kilter, jarring, and shaking feeling that this song and the seven that follow instill in me. Weatherbox has outdone themselves. There are off-time signatures that fit - somehow - so perfectly with the music and the songs and the overall record. I’m talking about time signatures that I haven’t heard in this genre for - well, ever. They are so well articulated, they are so well put together, and they make the record feel so… cohesive. How’s that possible? How does a jarring time signature and off-beat rhythm make me feel so at home with the album? How do the intentionally jarring time signature choices feel so cohesive? I’m not entirely sure, and I don’t think I want to know.
Brian Warren has always been known for his fantastic vocal stylings and even better lyrics, but I think just mentioning that would be selling this album short. The actual musicianship displayed on record here is unlike anything I’ve heard in quite a while. It’s fully-realized, it’s unique, and it’s absolutely infectious. Example? When “Dark All Night For Us” absolutely explodes at 1:48. It’s something you may or not have seen coming, but then the song goes in five different directions (!) and says, “Fuck you!” to typical song structures and just does its own thing. Even the ending “outro” is a beast all its own with its many different trajectories. This is truly a moment on the record that sets the stage for what’s to come next, and absolutely sets it apart from everything else out there.
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When I first heard the ending anthem to “Drag Out”, I wasn’t too sure of what I just heard. I had to go back and listen to it again. The song was great, of course, but it was the ending part that absolutely shook me. After an awesome 90’s-influenced rock anthem outro, we are treated to one of the most jarring parts of the album: a completely discombobulated-but-perfectly-in-sync band moment. For the next 45 seconds, Weatherbox has nothing to speak about, and just plays one of the coolest and most interesting endings to a song I’ve heard. It’s another paramount moment on an album filled with them.
That’s the thing about this album. It’s not just “ten awesome songs that flow together so well”, like most “great” records are. It’s more than that. It’s 13 songs that are crafted specifically for this cohesive record, and it seems like they were all born in different places. It seems like 13 different bands and 13 different moods. But, somehow, it’s all one band and one record. The moods are up to you. The record truly does fly in all directions, and that’s fucking saying something.
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A lot of Weatherbox fans struggled to keep faith that “the Box” - as they’re lovingly called - would come out with this long-rumored third LP. The EP’s and splits were great, but it wasn’t making a lot of sense as to where this third LP was. But, it’s here now, and it makes a lot of sense.
Some fans and critics will immediately compare Flies In All Directions to the previous two LP’s, with some saying it’s “not as good” and some declaring LP3 to be “the best of them all”. But that’s an absolutely futile conversation, as I’m sure the band will be the first to tell you. Flies In All Directions stands on its own. Yeah, sure, the word Weatherbox is on the cover, but it might not even need to be there. Flies In All Directions is pretty much all the notice you need before listening to it.
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This record is ostensibly one of very best of the year, and for that matter, one of the very best of the last few years. It can stand on its own, it is long enough to be played over and over again without feeling repetitive, and thankfully, it’s so dense and deep that probably in six months, us listeners will find something else to latch onto.
When the record was first announced earlier this month, I made a small little claim about it. Well, more like a request. I asked Brian Warren to blow our minds. The overused idiom was intentional. Obviously, the record was finished, so whatever mind blowing stuff was on there, was already there. I’m happy to report that the record does just that and then some.
Flies In All Directions is hard to summarize without using tons of superlatives and hyperbole. But, that’s the only way you can describe what will prove to be a timeless record.
Listening to Weatherbox's Flies In All Directions is absolutely fucking necessary.