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In Search Of...

Weird Summer

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Album Review

Weird Summer went through an eight-year layoff between their second and third albums, and in addition to providing ample time to hone his songwriting skills, the long sabbatical also enabled Bob Kimbell to redirect the signature sound of the band toward a more classically timeless template. Weird Summer's fourth album, In Search Of, provided a fine-tuning of its melodic, rootsy pop/rock, and it results in the most seasoned album of the band's career, as well as a dry run of sorts for Kimbell's collaboration the following year with longtime friend Jack Logan (who collaborates on this album's "Rained Like Hell"). Produced by power pop auteur Adam Schmitt, I.S.O. continues Kimbell's unerring sense of songcraft, as he comes up with his best set of songs yet, full of soaring melodies, heavenly harmonies, and an abundance of hooks, all further punctuated by his angelic tenor and dressed in the pop-cum-country-rock roar of the band. Kimbell's songwriting — on first listen seeming perhaps too homogeneous — is actually quietly diversified, but the blend of power pop and roots rock is so deft that it doesn't seem at all jarring to hear the minor-key rock of "Billy Distant" after the straight barnyard hoe-down "She's Not the One," which in turn follows the sunny, half-speed ballad "Stay Awhile." Nick Rudd's guitar work is both sweetly ringing and meaty, while rhythm section Rick Schattnik and John Richardson provide a straight-ahead country throb that is propulsive. Bits of the Byrds, Tom Petty, Big Star, and the Jayhawks surface not only in Kimbell's songs and crystalline voice (caught halfway between Neil Young and Alex Chilton on the pensive side and Paul McCartney on the pure one) but also in tingling acoustic guitar lines and piano flourishes, while a bit of the band's former new wave bent is still heard in the electric guitar textures of "Never Tell." All the ingredients have melted into the stew, and while it is not derivative, the music ultimately requires Kimbell's compositional skills to help it stand out.

Biography

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s

Comprised of members Bob Kimbell (vocals), Nick Rudd (guitar), Rick Shattnik (bass), and John Richardson (drums), Weird Summer has been compared to such acclaimed country rockers as Neil Young and the Byrds. The group has issued several albums, including 1998's I.S.O. (In Search Of) and 1999's...
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