So, I saw Allison Weiss at Bled Fest on Saturday. I didn’t know much about her or her music but when I saw her set with her full band, they put on an infectious, memorable and catchy show. I had to find out more about this band, so her LP “Say What You Mean” (released on No Sleep Records on April 16) was added to my Bled Fest merch bag (along with Tigers Jaw, Into It. Over It. and Kittyhawk LPs).
After listening to Weiss’ album over and over again, I thought I’d do a review.
After Bled Fest, I did a little research about Weiss and her musical career. She’s been doing the acoustic singer-songwriter thing for a few years now, releasing song videos on Youtube. She’s put out a few EPs, records and even toured with Lou Reed’s backing band in Europe. So, she’s got some impressive work behind her already.
Some of the songs are catchier than others but they all have a memorable quality about them. Opening track “Making It Up” has the most infectious kick drum-snare beat that will make you dance. The synth line in the song hooks you in. It’s a monster and will get stuck in your head for days. The bass is smooth yet anchors the song even more. Her vocal hooks draw you in too. “Tell me that I’m making it up and I’ll leave you alone” she sings with a confrontational confidence.
“Nothing Left” has a huge chorus too that sinks in quickly. It’s got a indie-synth pop vibe. It, again, makes you want to dance. “When you’re next to me, you get what’s left of me” Weiss harmonizes alongside an acoustic guitar and punching bass drum. It makes you feel like there’s something bigger coming and there is: the harmonies on the chorus are amazing and the drums go into uber-dance mode. So awesome.
“How to Be Alone” has vibes similar to Atlanta, GA band The Wild. The guitar tones feel a bit similar, particularly the power chords. Maybe it’s a coincidence that The Wild are from Atlanta and Weiss went to school at the University of Georgia but the sounds just cross pollinate, I think. The end of this song is so sad. Weiss sounds like she’s going to breakdown crying as the repeated refrain of “all the time”, complete with great harmonies, comes in. Gets me every time. Later tracks “Don’t Go” and “Hole In Your Heart” (which Weiss calls her “mean song”) draws more on the indie rocking side of her set. On the former, more jangly guitars pop in during the chorus as light chugging during the verses keeps the electric guitar in check. This woman has an excellent ear for harmonies, as again, they creep into your head. On the latter, the guitars are quiet during the verses but they burst in the chorus and bridge. The fuzzed bass helps add to the rough-around-the-edges feel too.
“Wait for Me” is a lyrical standout. Drawing on a lush and fitting arrangement of weeping orchestral strings and acoustic guitar, she sings with her heart on her sleeve (as she does throughout the entire album). “I’m missing out on all the places I could go, the people I could know, the nights I’m not alone/We’ll never make it and it wasn’t meant to be/But I’ll wait if you wait for me” she sings during the chorus. The ending refrain of “bye, goodbye” is heart-wrenching, honest and full of emotional power.
“Say What You Mean” is another incredibly yet simultaneously sad and upbeat song. A driving acoustic guitar strum dictates the pulse of the song. The sparse electric guitar line and sputtering drums add to the song’s quirk. The chorus is another monster with an great guitar line and harmonies. This is a masterpiece; it takes all of the elements up to this point (loud, memorable instrumentation, bubbly harmonies and personal-as-hell lyrics) and lets it rip. Best line of the album: “Too young to give a f*** and too young not to care and I’m fine with having fun but this is just unfair”. Raw honesty.
Album closer “I’ll Be OK” shows despite all the despair of a break up and roller coaster emotions, things will be alright. With hints of spoken word, Weiss lays it all out there. “I’ve got my guitar and you’ve got your space/I’m stuck in this place/I kind of don’t mind it/I’m losing my mind/Put off what’s important if it’ll buy me some time/Time to get braver/Time to postpone every failure I can’t seem to disown/And I’m still alone”….and that’s just the first verse. The ending refrain of “I’ll Be OK”, complete with an almost trip hop feel and choral harmonies and synths is the perfect ending to this album. For Weiss, it seems, there was a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s so resonate and bright you’ll definitely go back and listen to the album over and over again.
Next time, she is in Michigan (either by herself or with her full band) I will see her play.
Do yourself a favor and buy this album. You won’t regret it.