The Weakerthans

Watermark

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Admittedly held back by the fact that it is only three tracks long, the Weakerthans' follow-up EP to 2000's phenomenal Left and Leaving doesn't compare so much as serve to remind fans and critics of what makes this band so good. Far distanced from his days as "the quiet guy" in Propaghandi, John K. Samson has become a fine pop songwriter with the talent to fuse catchy melodies with punk rock. It is these sensibilities that make "Watermark" into a crisp chugging pop-punk number that still maintains a mildly mature air. The single's title track is also included on the disc in video form, and though it is nothing earth shattering, the clip's barrage of images makes for an even better presentation of some already enjoyable music. Proving that they don't need distortion or even electricity to make great music, the Weakerthans actually close out the disc with two unreleased songs, charming acoustic numbers recorded live on Winnipeg's CKUW radio. With Samson's underrated vocals taking the forefront, and complete with extra musicians on accordion, mandolin, pedal steel, and even a well-played contribution from Samson on the piano, both "Illustrated Bible Stories for Children" and "The Last Last One" are ripe with dignity and a weightiness that paints a portrait of a band who are only continuing to grow in their own refined direction. The Weakerthans are too talented to be seen as just another in a long line of forgettable pop-punk bands. They've moved past the trappings of a genre with remarkably juvenile implications, and this EP is another step in the direction towards them being appreciated as a talented rock band with a nice ear for melody.

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