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Weird War

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Album Review

An avant-garage supergroup, Weird War features the Make-Up's Ian Svenonius and Michelle Mae and Royal Trux veteran Neil Hagerty as their prime movers. The collaboration makes perfect sense: Hagerty co-produced the Make-Up's In Mass Mind and both of their previous groups mixed tradition and anarchy in exciting and complimentary ways. Weird War mixes both camps' approaches seamlessly; like Royal Trux and Hagerty's solo work, the songs shape-shift into several incarnations as they unfold, but they're shorter and more soul-influenced, like Mae and Svenonius' former band. Even the album's liner notes — a sociopolitical deconstruction of the rock group concept, presented as an interview with Hype Hair magazine — is a deft mix of the Make-Up's manifestos and Royal Trux's rambling, hyper-literate paranoia. The album-opener, "Baby It's the Best," sounds a bit like a sped-up version of the Rolling Stones' cover of "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," with Svenonius' sexed-up rasp and Hagerty's twangy vocals and guitar work complementing each other perfectly. Weird War also demonstrates an admirable range, considering that it tops out at just over half an hour. From the aggressive groove of "Grass" to the mellow, soulful "FN" to the driving garage rock of "Man Is Money," the album touches on most of the sounds that Hagerty, Svenonius, Mae, and the rest forged in their previous groups. However, as is the case with many supergroups, Weird War isn't quite as solid as they could've been, considering the amount of talent involved. As the album progresses, the songs become increasingly noodly and dip into the rambling funk that both Royal Trux and the Make-Up were fond of a little too often, even though most of the more experimental tracks, such as "Ibex Club"'s brass and flute-tinged boogie rock, don't stick around long enough to devolve into wanky jamming. Overall, the album is a fun, enjoyably tossed-off collection that should appeal to most Royal Trux and Make-Up fans. If Weird War isn't just a one-time meeting of the minds, here's hoping that their next album delivers just as much style with a little more substance.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Weird War began as a supergroup of the Make-Up's Ian Svenonius and Michelle Mae, and Royal Trux's Neil Hagerty after the members' main projects dissolved. Originally, the band, which also included Jessica Espeleta and Steve McCarty, was intended as a one-off project. After recording their 2002 self-titled debut and a track for the Colonel Jeffery Pumpernickel: A Concept Album, Hagerty continued his solo career as Neil Michael Hagerty, and Svenonius and Mae went on to form the Scene Creamers with...
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