By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
There is no indication that the Weakerthans-- currently the cream of Canada's power-pop crop -- decided to launch their tour of the U.S. as a response to Neil Young's wondrously dunderheaded tribute to the victims of September 11, "Let's Roll." Regardless, by gracing us with their "complicated dream of dignity," these Winnipeggers are helping to make amends for their fellow countryman's misstep.
Formed by John K. Samson after his amicable split from the agit-punk outfit Propagandhi, the Weakerthans present a progressive platform that splices the personal and the political with melodic suasion. Both their albums, Fallow and Left and Leaving, are punctuated with a Replacements-like facility to quickly perfuse adrenaline. However, it's in more meditative numbers, such as "Sounds Familiar" and "My Favorite Chords," that the band opens spaces for Samson's wounded crackle to file photojournalistic impressions from the corner of Bragg and Sexsmith. The result is a stirring concatenation of manifold Manitobas, with characters struggling to recast their history and finagle a future in the face of globalized unforgiveness.
By lacing their songs with sprigs of hope and uncertainty, the Weakerthans offer a refreshingly nuanced counterpoint to the strains of Manichaean militarism polluting the air these days. Their St. Louis debut at the Creepy Crawl may well be the highlight of the season.