Brace yourself for Pulitzer-worthy punk rock
At ?rst blush, The Weakerthans are prime Vans Warped Tour material, and the band’s overdriven guitars and sadsack, emo-tinged songs are readymade for morose skateboarders worldwide.
But listen more closely and John K. Samson’s songs unfold like disquieting short stories. This most literary of punks writes like Raymond Carver, and like Carver he captures human beings at crucial turning points, caught by unforeseen forces, teetering on the razor’s edge between mundane life and catastrophe. Mixing mid-tempo ballads and raging rockers with touches of banjo, pedal steel and Salvation Army brass band, Samson writes about doomed salesmen and medical freaks, the loneliness of Bigfoot and the lives of depressive NHL goalies, and he makes all of them sound three-dimensional and sympathetic. This is investigative journalism with a heart of compassion, a steady backbeat and four buzzing power chords. If such a prize existed, it would be the leading candidate for this year’s Punk Pulitzer.