Eclectic pop music and Portland seem to go together like coffee, cigarettes, and Sartre. The branding itself really seems like a rationalization by critics, press gurus, and bloggers alike who can’t seem to fit an artist into a category. And this is probably where an act like the Portland (and the rest of Oregon) based John Craig & The Weekend come into play. And it is suffice to say that this is truly a wonderful characteristic by nature. Versatility is a virtue that should be exploited more often.
On Numbers, John Craig explores a whole new world of said versatility. On his second coming, follow up to his strong debut EP Umlaut, Craig has put together a strong band to guide him through the valley of pop creationism. There are so many different emotions being spread around like wild dandelions on this record. There are Neil Young-esque and sensual songs of desperation like the title track “Numbers”, which proceeds what seems to be the Prince or Simple Minds influenced “Staying Too Late”. And, of course, there is the simple indie pop goodness of a track like “Newstories” embedded in the playlist that attempts to keep the balance. But, who needs balance, really? Why not just enjoy the variable supremacy Craig and Co. have put into a very entertaining album.
While John Craig & The Weekend seem to (sort of) follow the trends beset upon them by their fare city of roses, there is definitely something different happening on Numbers. There is a certain excitement in hearing a band that is obviously inspired by something far beyond acceptable influences. This is a band that actually sounds the way the youth would love to hear The Eagles. No gimmicks, just great music. These guys seem to inadvertently send a clear message that it is okay to make radio friendly music, and still hold the power to be a truly unique and individualistic group of artists. And that is a trait that is definitely worthy of an abundance of praise.
Download: “Newstories” by John Craig & The Weekend
Loop Hole Records [CD, 2011]
2. We Are Whatever
3. Don’t Think Make Mistakes Part One
4. Don’t Think Make Mistakes Part Two
5. The Only Way (Neck) feat. Gold
6. It’s Love I’m After
7. Rain and Trains
8. Sink Or Swim
9. Out All Night
10. Staying Too Late
11. Old Faces