After tiring of their soft rock tendencies as The Tweeds, Philadelphians Tom Anthony and brothers Nic and Derek Sheehan joined forces with Emily Cahill to form Weekender, looking for a fresh opportunity to break ground amongst heavier terrain. With their debut EP, Spanish Peaks, the quartet is determined to give psychedelic juggernauts like Tame Impala a run for their money. They are no strangers to brain-bending methods like never-ending flanger waves and tremelo-infused strums, but their garage rock drive takes away from capitalizing on that vision.
The opening seconds of the album’s title track ooze with garage distortion and heavy reverberation. At first, their only tribute to psychedelia comes in the lyrics, as they search for sunshine instead of Jesus, and fly through the power of “LSD and the age of interest.” The intense instrumentation launches Weekender on their adventure, but the straightforward, noisy arrangement fails to provide any competition for their kaleidoscopic counterparts.
“A Secret for You” captures the psychedelic flavors more successfully thanks to the confidence of Sheehan’s vocals and Cahill’s groovy bass navigation. Together, they generate a swift combination of distorted magic and hallucinatory effects. “Don’t Hide” mesmerizes in a more laid-back demeanor, banjo and acoustic guitar acting as texturizing additions. Here, the band applies a less-is-more mentality and reveals their greatest strength.
As the minimal-ish experimentation of “A Secret For You” closes Spanish Peaks, it’s easy to wonder why they didn’t fully commit to this approach or explore more of their clearly evident diverse set of traits. The EP is an intriguing listen, but often fails to fully blend their noisy rambunctious rock urges and their trippy vitality. Headbangers may enjoy the shoegazy chaos of its first half, while others may dig the smoother instrumentation and Sheehan’s crisp harmonies that follow. In the end, Weekender would best be served by stepping away from the foggy distortion before taking their next steps.
Essential Tracks: “A Secret for You”, “Don’t Hide”