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By Gus Bode

Editor’s Note: Ten-Year Itch is a weekly column, which sometimes appears in print and sometimes online. It focuses on a film or album that is at least 10 years old and deserving of a second look.

People are creating art from the most unlikely sources.

An artist may take a neighbor’s trash and construct a piece that is confusing yet beautiful. Or maybe a photographer captures an image of atrocity, but their image becomes a symbol that spawns discussion and insightful thought. Not just purely destruction or heartache.

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It happens all the time. One such time was in 1997 when former Propaghandi bassist John K. Samson released his new band’s -The Weakerthans’ – debut, ‘Fallow.’

Not to say Propaghandi is garbage or anything. The band did snotty, political-punk rock with the best, but the total left turn Samson took with The Weakerthans was unexpected after his previous output.

‘Fallow’ is at times hauntingly stark and, at other times, radio-ready rock ‘n’ roll. More than three chords are utilized on the record, as the band shifts from folk to rock to adult alternative without falter.

The real standout here is Samson’s oft-poetic lyricisms. None of the songs are upbeat, especially in the lyrics. Samson’s characters are spurned by lovers and by life. They are unsure with what is ahead of them and not looking forward to greeting it. Instead they look to past mistakes, deciding to hide or run away.

Even though the band has spent most of its tenure on punk rock labels, the indie rock crowd has accepted them. The relationship has been an acceptance, not unending amounts of praise. The public reaction really is no surprise, because the band is doing what many have done before them: rock music with killer hooks attached. It is Samson’s literate take on rock music that puts the band in another level over groups such as Jimmy Eat World.

The band has been consistent over its tenure of four albums and an EP, another reason it just does not seem to stand out. Producing work with such consistency and not straying too far from formula does not raise any red flags.

This is a shame in itself, because the band is creating above average rock music and it just gets cast into a wider net.

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‘Fallow’ is where it all started and the perfect introduction for listeners interested in The Weakerthans.

Luke McCormick can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 275

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