Like Dave “Dixie” Collins’ liver, this post on Weedeater’s Jason… The Dragon been marinating for a long time.
My critical pendulum has been swinging like a bored suburban housewife about this fourth outing from the shambolic North Carolina trio of sludge maestros.
Victim of four years’ increasingly rabid anticipation?
One trick pony heading for the knacker’s yard?
Or an erratically brilliant, frustratingly inconsistent outing from one of the leading lights of southern sludge?
I’m going with the latter.
I’ve listened to a lot of Weedeater these past weeks and I have a theory.
Perhaps theory is too grand a word but bear with me.
Weedeater seem to operate on an album cycle of one blinder, one so-so, one blinder, one so-so.
Debut …And Justice for Y’All (2000) was outrageously good, 2003 follow-up Sixteen Tons the runt of the litter and God Luck and Good Speed (2007) a classic.
Jason… The Dragon definitely disappoints as a whole when held up against its predecessor but there are clear signs Weedeater are not yet burned out despite well-documented self-destructive tendencies.
- Some out-and-out rippers worthy of career classic status. Mancoon is swinging and scuzzy, a fully-charged propulsive delight where the signature Weedeater tone has never sounded so thick and fuzzy and yet perfectly formed.
- Still supremely heavy with a ridiculous low-end. How do three men push so much air?
- Despite the heaviness and harsh vocals, it’s never all doom and gloom. Weedeater have always been at their best when there’s something uplifting streaking their filthy racket. Witness Homecoming, truly one of the best examples of this in their canon.
- The acoustic numbers feel more mature and stand up as excellent songs in their own right. Whiskey Creek with its swamp noises and crackling banjo and simple bass line is slight for sure but wonderfully evocative of my romantic view of America’s south.
- It’s far too short. Discounting skits, there’s enough heavy for a decent EP. And this took four years?
- An entire song taken up by a drum solo. A fucking drum solo. It reminds me of Stomp, only without the skill, dancing and synchronisation of course.
- Too much plod and not enough killer songs. All Weedeater albums have a bit of plod of course but there’s too much in the vein of Turkey Warlock that just isn’t quite as memorable as it could be.
- In hindsight, God Luck and Good Speed feels like the perfection of the Weedeater formula. Also produced by Steve Albini and released on Southern Lord, Jason… feels like a haphazard attempt at recreating that formula rather than injecting anything new or pushing it forward.
Jason… The Dragon is a good album. It’s not a great one though. While I’d rather crank this over 95% of this year’s new releases, I’m still disappointed there’s little here with the deranged, snotty lunacy of Southern Cross.
Let’s hope my theory is correct and the next record is an absolute belter.