They’ve always done things differently down south. Whether it's in the water - the mighty Mississippi overflowing with history and sprit - or in the air - the smell of magnolia trees evoking sweet pastures - the resonant way of life down that way has always been a fertile ground for producing artists that draw from their immediate surroundings.
The Weeks, much like their Delta forebears, pick up on the divergent sounds that make the south such a delicious melting pot of music. The Jackson, Mississippi, quartet fuse strains of soul, blues, country and blistering rock and roll, which has ensured their albums have always been a rollicking sum of their parts, and a keen nod to the indigenous lineage the band are quite aware of.
Their debut, 2008’s ‘Comeback Cadillac’, presented a raw, rustic and rocking sound, with lead vocals shared by Chaz Lindsay and Cyle Barnes, but by 2011, with Lindsay out of the band, on ‘Gutter Gaunt Gangster’, Barnes’ confidence as a gravelly-voiced gothic storyteller was evident. Sharing that assurance, The Weeks’ musicality on 2013’s ‘Dear Bo Jackson’ was reinforced by auxiliary instrumentation - brass and keyboard adding substantial new dimensions to their sound. Last year’s ‘Easy’ consolidated the unit’s emphatic bond in an album that was simultaneously sweet and spiky.
Seeing all those songs come to life, however, not only emphasises The Weeks’ deft talents with infectious hooks and memorable melodies, but the entirely natural chemistry that drives them - at its core the familial glue of Cyle and his twin brother, drummer Cain. Beside them on stage, old school friends Samuel Williams (guitar) and Damien Bone (bass) bring the expressive fluidity that the group’s groove glides upon.
Given that the live stage is their most natural habitat, the decision to release a live album that collects performances of the best tracks from across their catalogue seems rather an inspired move. ‘Inside The Pines’, the aforementioned concert document, was recorded over two sold-out nights at 3rd And Lindsley in the band’s adopted hometown of Nashville back in January of this year, and captures the special events, which featured former touring members to fully embellish their sound. What you hear is what they gave: the album is a pure live recording, with no overdubs.
The anthemic 'Brother In The Night’ makes for a big opener, their proud roots on display from the off as the song pounds to the beat of a “southern heart still pumping blood”. The pace continues with ‘Bottle Rocket’ and ‘Dear Bo Jackson’ before the meditative ‘Slave To The South’ reflects on a troubled and pastoral existence.
‘Talk Like That’ is relentless in its grungy attack, but ‘Hands On The Radio’ is comforting blue-eyed soul, leading us into the final trio of live favourites.
‘Wo Is I’ builds in intensity as its shuffle beat swells with excitement amid female vocals and heavenly organs. ‘Buttons’ gets a warm welcome from the crowd, who can be heard echoing its defiant chorus until Cyle invites them to “party a little bit”, as The Weeks bring it home with a storming countrified hoedown. Final track, ‘Hold It, Kid’, ends the experience on a tender, bittersweet note - some relief after what’s prefaced it - allowing a last little insight into the group’s efficiency with subtleties, as well as their ability to touch the light paper.
If you’ve never heard of The Weeks, ‘Inside The Pines’ is a fine introduction to some of their greatest hits, presented as a sign of what’s to come when finally you encounter them in the flesh. For those of us already under their spell, it’s an exhilarating document of that down-south swagger we know and love.
Words: CC Baxter
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Catch The Weeks on the following dates:
17 Birmingham The Sunflower Lounge
18 Hull The Adelphi Club
19 Bristol Louisiana
20 London The Garage
21 Manchester Night & Day
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