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First Play: Weaves, Wide Open

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Andrea Gin

For the members of Toronto rock quartet Weaves, it seems like a lot has happened in a short amount of time. Just over a year ago, they released a much buzzed-about, self-titled debut to widespread critical acclaim. They then hit the road and toured relentlessly, playing shows and festivals all over the world. Their album was shortlisted for this year’s Polaris Music Prize. Somehow, in the midst of the whirlwind, they also found time to write and record a new album.

“We got back from the tour with Mitski on November 22nd and I started writing November 23rd,” lead singer Jasmyn Burke said via press release. “We spent three months writing and pretty much figured out the album in its entirety in that timeframe. With the year we had I think we really hit this sweet spot where your brain is fully ready for something new, but has absorbed all of this information and it all just spews out. You just sort of let music happen.”

The combination of that surge of creativity and road-hardened live experience can certainly be felt listening to Wide Open. The band, led by Burke and guitarist Morgan Waters, workshopped songs collaboratively in studio, trying to find a balance between crafting their sound and letting their tendency towards anarchy flow. The resulting album is more pop-influenced but still maintains elements of the Weaves' original warped, art-rock sound.

“The recording was mostly based around live-off-the-floor playing with all four of us, and we tried to navigate a balance between thinking and not thinking,” said Waters. “We find that we don’t really figure anything out with words or rehearsing so for the most part we just didn’t. Sometimes it’s better that we don’t try to control it and there’s something nice about allowing yourself not to be in control.”

The band’s pop-rock tendencies are most evident on “Walkaway,” the second single from the album, which somewhat surprisingly calls early Bruce Springsteen to mind.

The album also features a stunning collaboration with Tanya Tagaq called “Scream,” which Weaves debuted at this year’s Polaris Music Prize gala. Burke describes the song, a bit of a departure from Wide Open’s other songs, as a “sculpture in the middle of the album.”

In all, Weaves has emerged from a chaotic year with an album that is at once listenable, meaningful and weird. It’s a worthy followup to the band's celebrated debut.

Wide Open will be released on Oct. 6 via Buzz Records, Kanine & Memphis Industries. You can pre-order it here. Watch the band's First Play Live recorded last year at Toronto's Allan Gardens Conservatory here.