WEEP: Worn Thin
Anyone familiar with Adult Swim’s “The Venture Bros.” knows something about co-creator Doc Hammer. The show mixes comedy and adventure, and as one of the creative minds of the show I was always impressed how they took popular culture and added a realistic, yet funny, twist to it. I also knew about Hammer’s amazing talent for oil paintings. I couldn’t take a photograph that looks as good as Hammer’s paintings. I knew he was a talented guy, I just had no idea how talented.
On top of writing, voicing, acting, and painting, Doc Hammer is a musician. His latest group WEEP released their first full-length album in July of 2010, titled Worn Thin. Doc played in gothic rock bands like Requiem in White and Mors Syphilitica, so I figured WEEP might be the same type of sound. Not entirely. Musically, WEEP reminds me of acts such as The Cure or Siouxsie and the Banshees. Acts that used guitars as well as keyboards to create a light and poppy sound. But the songs aren’t about sunshine and walks on the beach.
And that’s where the music becomes interesting. Drums, guitars, keys all come together to give you a warm blanket to wrap yourself up in. And then Doc sings with his deep voice that rarely fluctuates. It gives a serious air to the music that could otherwise be used for dance tracks. Tracks like “Let Me” carry that poppy rock sound of the 80’s while Hammer croons a bit like Jim Kerr on Simple Minds‘ “Dont You Forget About Me”. It’s almost as though Hammer is talking to you rather than singing.
And that’s how Worn Thin plays out. Song after song have this techno-like feel to them with heavy drums. Not quite Nine Inch Nails heavy drums or electronics, but on the low end of that scale. Most interesting are two covers that the album contains. The first is the Jesus Jones single “Right Here, Right Now”. Carrying with the feel of Worn Thin, the track is both poppier than the original, but Hammer’s vocals also make it seem a bit sadder as well. But it gives the song a genuine feeling, as when Hammer sings “Right here, right now, there is no other place I wanna be”. I just get the sense that he’s added something Jones never did. That feeling that sometimes things aren’t so great, but you’re still where you need to be.
The other cover, surprisingly, is Rihanna‘s “Shut Up and Drive”. They transform the track, virtually making it their own. I kept thinking of Orgy‘s cover of “Blue Monday” as the song played. Apparently WEEP’s cover does contain an interpretation of New Order‘s “Blue Monday”. And it works really well. I think the biggest kick of the cover tracks is that Hammer shows he has a bit more range than on the original tracks. He really takes his voice and shows that he can sing. In a way it makes the rest of his vocals on the album seem drab, and lazy. But I think that has more to do with creativity. He has a certain vision for his original tracks while taking the covers and presenting them in a new way.
All in all, Hammer admitted that he wanted to produce an album that was unlike what the music industry is pushing out. In his words, “That dry, low-tech production of the last ten years is tiring”. And that might be true. But producing an album that is neither dry nor low-tech could backfire. If WEEP are looking for huge success then the radio stations are going to be a big part of that. So you’ll have to pander to what the stations are playing. And if they’re not looking to “sell out”, then more power to them. Either way, I’m glad that they’re making music they want to make and aren’t arguing with a record label over creativity. Worn Thin is a decent album that does deserve a listen. And being a native of Connecticut, I’d be hard pressed not to push anything that Ledyard, Connecticut born Doc Hammer makes. He’s a talented man. And that should always be celebrated.
MP3: WEEP “Worn Thin”
Buy: iTunes or Amazon
WEEP: Worn Thin