By Alex HudsonDespite the plurality of the Weakerthans' name, the beloved Winnipeg rock outfit have always been anchored by the distinctive vocals and image-rich storytelling of frontman John K. Samson. It's about time, then, that the celebrated songwriter got his own solo album.
This long-awaited LP is called Provincial, and it's due out January 24 via Epitaph Records. Luckily, you won't have to wait until then to hear the whole thing, since we'll be streaming it all week right here at Exclaim.ca.
We've heard some of the songs before, as Samson released a handful of these tunes on seven-inch vinyl. Don't expect any of them to sound identical to their past incarnations, however, since they've all been re-recorded.
A press release promised us that the album would include "songs about dying villages, Icelandic longing, snowplows, broken glass, satellites, hockey skates, and staff room romances." Now you can hear all of that and more below.
This is a frequently sparse and quiet album with a chilly sound that mirrors the frosty imagery found in many of his lyrics. Of course, there are also a few upbeat rock songs like the crunchy single "When I Write My Master's Thesis." And as you'd expect from the title, there are lots of region-specific lyrics and intimate portraits of life in Manitoba.
Of course, there's also plenty of material that people from all over the world can relate to, including descriptions of videogames, collegiate life and heartbroken romance. Hilariously, there's even a song that takes its name from a URL address, as the seven-inch cut "Petition" has been retitled "http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/rivertonrifle/".
As previously reported, Samson will be taking Provincial out on the road for a North American tour, which includes a pile of Canadian dates. You can see all those stops here. And of course, stream Provincial below.