Sound Track web extra: Weaker Things

Local indie-rock outfit Comet West holds a release party for new EP, Weaker Things on Friday, Oct. 18 at The Mill Room. Onawa and Total War also perform. Doors at 9 p.m., show at 9:30 p.m. $7 for 18+ or $5 for 21+.

If there are apparent themes in Weaker Things, they’d all revolve around sound. The crisp percussion of not just the drum set but also the rhythm guitar. The luster of cymbals and strings glinting with steely cool while bass snarls from the songs’ murky depths. On most of the six tracks, front man Samuel Robbins pushes his vocal to a tattered shriek, the lyrics nearly lost in the sonic fray. But still, the melodic current of each offering is allowed to surface. And, at the core of the whole album beats the unmistakable coiled energy of a true rock ‘n’ roll heart.

The rest of the band is Britt Benson-Greer on bass, Shane Myers-Bennett on guitar and Nick Rodriguez on drums. Benson-Greer, Myers Bennett and Robbins were in Elkmont Place together, which disbanded two years ago. And though the Comet West lineup has been cemented for more than a year, it’s taken until now for them to carve out the time to record their first release. (They laid down tracks at Spaceface Sounds in Black Mountain.)

Lead track “Bottom of it” opens with stout percussion and washes of strings that sound more like futuristic slide guitar than any earthly instrumentation. It’s a song built around instrumentation (though it’s not an instrumental), leading into the more lyric-driven tracks. Such as “Strong Gust,” which whips and gallops with the velocity of a squall, around Robbins’ anguished vocal.

“Busy Work” launches from a higher altitude, chilly and removed. That song’s lead has one of the best percussion parts on the album: Sticks on rims chatter like dry bones. There is an internal turmoil to the song — Robbins shouts his lyrics from a whirlpool of echo and metallic churn. But even as the song roils and quakes, the upper register of the guitar portends some peachy dawn. There’s a rare moment of peace at the four-minute mark before the drums crack like thunder, driving the melody back into the fracas.

Comet West has a knack for surprising song openings (the surprise being where the track goes from the foundation of its intro). “Ends Meet” is a taut, cadenced jog through thick drums and weighty bass. Robbins’ singing is anthemic, his voice bouncing off fiery chords. It’s a song that rolls like a juggernaut across its own soundscape.

“Bear Trap,” the album’s single, is somewhat of a departure from form. It’s also a stand out. Here, the angst of the other five tracks is smoothed into lustrous melodic washes. The beat is intense but not bruising. The vocal still contains a tattered edge, but it’s mellowed. This is the long downhill glide after the steep uphill climb. The release after the tantrum. But the song is not without its ache and crush, its secret black eye — and that jittery disquiet is exactly what Comet West so aptly captures on Weaker Things

The EP ends with “I was a cyclone,” another exuberant storm swell. The rhythm section provides the foreboding impetus into the song’s quaking marrow. There, peals of guitar and vocal gales batter the sonic walls. And yet, even in the crux of the tempest, there’s still an orchestrated control. If Comet West has composed a battlefield in Weaker Things, the band has also choreographed a ballet. More black swan than white swan, but no less exquisite.


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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall has lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. She is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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