Album Review: Eric Weiler, by the Eric Weiler Band

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“Rock noir” is the best description I can give for Eric Weiler’s particular style of barroom Americana. In it you’ll find the country fatalism of Johnny Cash, the gruff-yet-endearing vocals a la Tom Waits, the idea of the road as liberation championed by early Bruce Springsteen songs and more. Much like in film noir, a rock noir hero rarely, if ever, truly wins; the same can be said of the protagonist in Weiler’s songs. The heroism is in trying, and in accepting life’s sometimes-cruel twists of fate as things to be expected rather than lamented.

Weiler has the concept nailed down in songs such as “Darkness,” “Shadow of the Gallow,” “There’s Ghosts In Your Graveyard,” “Whiskey and Gold” and “Jesse James.” The Springsteen restlessness comes through in full force on “Ride That Train,” a song so anthemic and unbridled it feels almost out of place as the next-to-last track. If you ever thought of planning a road trip around your travel music, rather than vice versa, let this song be the reason you slam the car door and crank the engine.

Bringing this self-titled record to life is an exceptional and broad-ranging list of guest performers, including Mark Bilyeu, Molly Healey, Sherry Hurst and J.R. Top, among others. Bilyeu and Healey are particularly well versed in playing country and folk, thanks to their connections to Big Smith and Barefoot Revolution, respectively, and their work often reflects those leanings. That’s just fine with Weiler; his tastes often run down the same backroads. Listen to “Cottonwood” and its pristine lap-steel guitar and try not to think of the Allman Brothers Band.

Tying it all together is Weiler, whose voice and lyrics come across as the classic tough guy with a soft heart. He may drift into conventions and even cliches with his words, but Weiler finds little moments of disarming vulnerability as well: “Can we dance, it’s been too long/and can I be the slow one, and can I sing along?” Noir heroes, in film as well as in rock, are romantics at heart, even if they’re caught in especially unromantic corners of life. Such romanticism is often their tragic flaw, but damn if it doesn’t make for good music, too.

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2 Responses to “Album Review: Eric Weiler, by the Eric Weiler Band”

  1. blondie Says:

    Videos of The Dark Alleys, The Cropdusters and The Eric Weiler Band from Eric Weiler’s cd release show at The Outland on Nov 8 2008 are uploaded on Youtube…here’s the link….Blondie videos

  2. blondie Says:

    Oops…delete that….Videos of The Dark Alleys, The Cropdusters and The Eric Weiler Band from Eric Weiler’s cd release show at The Outland on Nov 8 2008 are uploaded on Youtube…

    http://www.youtube.com/bolivarblondie

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