The Weather Machines
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The Weather Machines

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"Album Review (4/5) - Orlando Sentinel"

Jim Abbott - Jan. 20, 2006

With a sound that mixes equal parts Buddy Holly, Big Star and My Aim is True-era Elvis Costello, the 12 songs on this debut album from the Weather Machines give power pop a good name.

The Weather Machines, nurtured in the Midwestern soil of Rapid City, S.D., don't do anything too fancy. Guitars and drums are slavishly and effectively devoted to the backbeat and lead singer-guitarist Jason Ward explores gently twisting melodies with a tenor that falls between hip disinterest and exuberant innocence.

There's not as much hyperactivity as the Strokes and not as much angst as the new breed of emo shoegazers, which makes the Weather Machines refreshing. The arrangements, powered by bassist Ali DeMersseman, drummer J. Waylon Miller and guitarist Patrick S. Fleming, are uncluttered and unpretentious.

Beyond the sound, the Weather Machines also offer genuinely smart lyrics that find the middle ground between meaning and melodrama. "The Modern Text of Love'' looks at the folly of understanding affairs of the heart:

"The calculus of crime,'' Ward sings, "You studied all the lies between the lines, but never learned that truth has time on its side, 'cause your kind of truth it doesn't sell.''

Whatever Ward is saying, it's the band that seals the appeal of The Sound of Pseudoscience. Crisp, angular guitars shape the cocky attitude on "Northern Lights'' and "Last Stop,'' the latter carried along on a repetitive chorus marked by the infectious DNA of New Wave.

When so many bands are imitating the Cure, it's nice to see the Weather Machines channeling Big Star on "Old School vs. Liberty Girls'' better than Big Star itself did on its recent reunion album.

For all its obvious influences, the band does an impressive job of forging its own identity. A good deal of that credit goes to the songs, which yield surprising substance upon repeated listening.

The moderate, melodic pace of "Alone in Shiki'' also shows that the Weather Machines can handle a ballad -- at least better than the Strokes did on the new First Impressions of Earth.

The Weather Machines luckily aren't facing Strokes-level hype, but this debut is strong enough to qualify the band as one worth watching.
- Orlando Sentinel


"Album Review (79%) - Cokemachine Glow"

Shockingly enough, as much as I lose my shit over the complex artistry of technically terrific bands, the simple quality of accessible indie rock has a reliable niche in my span of musical taste. To this day I hold terribly dear my copy of both A Series of Sneaks and Hearts of Oak, for instance. Appropriately enough, then, The Weather Machines, who occupy a mid point between the FM rawkus of Leo and the minimalist punch of Spoon, are a frequent treat in my weekly music diet.

This is a group that does absolutely nothing revolutionary, but does it as deftly and cleanly as one could wish. And as the cliché goes, it’s often more pleasant to deal with such bands than those who are in the hopelessly silly business of overshooting their capacities with blindly ambitious songs. Instead, The Weather Machines stick to solid songwriting basics, building urgent verses and catchy melodies into concise pop kicks, all the while never forgetting a generous offering of hooks. The Sound of Pseudoscience is consequently remarkably consistent and never boring.

In fact, the brevity of these tightly-wound tracks bears a similar stamp to the songwriting ethic of Spoon’s A Series of Sneaks. Most of these tracks have an effortless quality to them, cycling efficiently through deceptively simple ideas with inviting ease. Even at their most average, on a track like “Me Too Iguana,” the group still finds time for a smart, unassuming guitar bridge despite the track’s vanilla choruses. But The Weather Machines sound inspired for the majority of the album’s duration, despite their evenly spread energy. “The Latest in Company Brides” is a quick chunk of greatness; it packs a superb bass lead cloaked in two alternating great hooks, and its chorus bursts with cymbals and rhythm. “Stains of Saints” begins with a glorious chunky riff that’s overlaid with an ethereal reverbed guitar figure, backed by Jason Ward’s far-off vocals. It then proceeds to acquire a solid bass line, an appropriately meditative rhythm, and steadily builds to its understated climax with the addition of a third riff to complement the already excellent first two, finishing with two different guitars that build a strong hook out of their complementing movements.

Ultimately, this stuff is finely chiseled, often muscular, and in its totality, highly satisfying stuff, largely because The Weather Machines know how to find a good set of three or four or five chords, and elaborate on those chords to great effect. Ward can hit his notes without any strain whatsoever, making for a plenty competent vocalist, and his occasionally urgent but mostly laid-back style complements his group’s form of pop-rock perfectly. With occasional variations in fills or rhythmic weight, and additions like “Fadeout Classic’s” ingeniously placed background harmonies, the band shifts its instrumental progressions easily and unpretentiously. With that kind of savvy songwriting understanding, The Weather Machines reaffirm the point that the unbroken mold can be an excellent one, especially when it’s this well-sculpted.

Amir Nezar
January 26, 2006 - cokemachineglow.com


"Band Of The Day - SPIN.com"

The Weather Machines have a song towards the end of The Sound of Pseudoscience called "32,000' Above Suck City." In a plaintive, Ted Leo-ish yelp, frontman Jason Ward sings about looking down at mythical Suck City, thinking, "[W]e're two hours from a drop-dead feeling like we're past the point of no return." Everyone's looked down at Suck City at some point; some are actually permanent residents, folks who would feel so lucky if Suck City was merely the capital of some flyover state in their psychological universe.

Cheeky lyrics dealing with feelings of repression and depression are the Weather Machines' forte, and throughout The Sound of Pseudoscience -- their debut full-length -- this South Dakota outfit supplements that sarcasm with power punk riffs reminiscent of the Hold Steady. It's straightforward rock that won't set the world aflame, but the Machines are tight enough to overcome the album's lack of any revolutionary discoveries.

Sure, the band's debut is called The Sound of Pseudoscience, but if the whole rock star thing doesn't work out for Ward, he has actual science to fall back on: Ward has a degree in electrical engineering. On the strength of this debut, though, Ward should quit his day job: He won't be visiting Suck City any time soon. The Weather Machines will play a one-off, Feb. 11 show at St. Joe Pub in their hometown of Rapid City with Stereotyperider, the Revenge, Out On Bail, and Noise Noise Noise. The Sound of Pseudoscience is out now on Tigers Against Crime.

Jessica Grose - 2/2/06 - Spin.com


"#5 Album of 2006"

5. The Weather Machines, THE SOUNDS OF PSEUDOSCIENCE

Perhaps it's the unlikeliness of their backstory (a band of geeks from South Dakota fronted by an electrical engineer), perhaps it's lead singer Jason Ward's vocal ability to channel a less-yelpy Ted Leo, or maybe the insistent brilliance of J. Waylon Miller's drumming, but this record is the embodiment of the whole far outreaching the sum of its parts. I mean, on paper, there's just not that much spectacular going on here--chunky, amateurish guitar riffs, three-chord melodies, and vocals that sound lifted right from the 1980's new wave how-to book.

Thankfully, we listen with our ears instead of on paper, and you'll hear what I mean about 10 seconds into this startling debut's opening track, "Modern Text On Love". Built around a nagging melody, whomping rhythm, and clever run-on lyrics sung with incredible earnestness by Ward, its an instantly likeable anthem that sets the tone for the rest of the record. Lest you be thinking that nothing on the disc can approach that first track...well, just as things start to lag a little, The Weather Machines roll out three of the best rock and roll tracks released this year: "Latest In Company Brides", the sublime "Old School Vs. Liberty Girls", and "Last Stop".

Which brings me to the point in this list where I mention that it's bands like The Weather Machines--groups who come from the middle of nowhere and manage to take something overfamiliar and make something fresh and exciting out of it--folks like this are the reason I hope I never get too old for that Devil's Music The Kids Are Digging So Much Nowadays. There's a moment on the bridge of "Old School Vs. Liberty Girls", when Miller plays an awesome snare/cymbal counterpoint to Ward's guitar, and then brings the whole thing back home with an awesome snare roll into the final chorus that still--maybe a hundred plays later--gives me goosebumps. The Weather Machines have such an air of charming inspired amateurism going on throughout the record, that hearing that bravado Charlie-Watts-ish bravado turn come outta nowhere just knocks the socks off. No idea if The Weather Machines can top this, but they certainly are a band to watch--if they can figure out how to keep things going now that half the band lives in Portland Oregon. - Pop Narcotic


"Exclaim Review for The Sound of Pseudoscience"

Weather Machines
The Sound of Pseudoscience
By Chuck Molgat

The latest bit of rock-solid proof that great music can emerge in the most unlikely of places comes via Rapid City, South Dakota’s the Weather Machines. On this 12-song debut CD, the mixed-gender quartet jump headfirst into timeless, melodic guitar rock territory and manage to successfully maintain a four-decade stylistic straddle throughout. Guitarist/vocalist Jason Ward is the closest thing to a hybrid of Irish quaverer Feargal Sharky and the late, great Chris Bell that you’re ever likely to hear. Voices and vocal styles aside, those two artists’ respective bands — the Undertones and Big Star — could well be considered influences of the Weather Machines overall sound. Despite his previous membership in Rapid City garage-pop unit the Bee Eaters (along with WM bassist Ali DeMersseman), Ward is apparently best known in local circles for his studio engineering work. That explains the obvious attention paid to the production here. Still, Ward’s console skills don’t seem to take anything away from his performance savvy. Unlike so many tourists frequenting Walldrug and the Corn Palace, there’s little or no fat on this catchy, impressively consistent release. (City Canyons) - Exclaim.ca


"#2 Album of 2006"

2. The Weather Machines- The Sound Of Pseudoscience (Tigers Against Crime!!!)
Pssst! Can I tell you a secret? This one is actually my favorite record of the year. I just couldn’t stand the idea of being that critic… you know, the one who names some group that no one has ever heard of before as his/her album of the year. Also, I had to discredit it a bit for technically having come out in 2005. The Weather Machines charged out of [Rapid City], South Dakota into my life in 2006 through the blessed Pandora internet radio (www.pandora.com) with this picture perfect debut album- The Sound Of Pseudoscience. And if you’re wondering just what pseudoscience sounds like, it apparently sounds kind of like early Cheap Trick…. and the best moments of a lot of power-pop groups of the late 70’s and early 80’s (The Plimsouls, The Knack, Shoes, etc.). If you’re not getting the picture, just think of catchy pop songs with wiry-yet-crunchy guitars and an almost punk energy (provided your definition of “punk” isn’t Yellowcard). Some of the tunes jump out of the speakers like instant hits (”Fade Out Classic”, “Northern Lights”) while others grab you after a few listens (”Stains Of Saints”). In short, The Weather Machines are a band to fall in love with and The Sound Of Pseudoscience is the sunny soundtrack to the whole affair. - Electric City Renaissance


"EW - Download This!"

A fresh-faced foursome from South Dakota, this band crafts finely chiseled, Elvis Costello-style guitar-pop with aplomb. Check out Last Stop, which finds them at their tightly wound best. - Entertainment Weekly


"Album Review (8/10) - Sixeyes"

*Sixeyes Rating: 8.0 out of 10

The Weather Machines are from Rapid City, South Dakota. After a year and a half together, the quartet of Jason Ward [vocals/guitar], Patrick Fleming [guitar], Ali DeMersseman [bass], and J. Waylon Miller [drums], have self-released on Jason Ward's own label, Tigers Against Crime, their debut album, The Sound of Pseudoscience.

This is power pop crisply executed. There is no messing around, these twelve short tracks are all meaty hooks and shiny barbs. Following the opening nugget, "Modern Text On Love" [whose opening guitar riff recalls XTC], you'd expect a young band to slide into average, maudlin territory, but no... these musicians bear down and deliver lead singer Jason Ward's songs with a consistent energy matching the songs surprising quality. Bringing to mind bands like Ted Leo, XTC, The Strokes, and 'eternally missing in action' The La's -- this is power pop with impeccable pedigree and deep roots. Recommended. - sixeyes.blogspot.com


"Album Review - Herohill.com"

I looked over my best of 2005 mix CD, and aside from Ted Leo, I realized the selections were a little lacking in the rock area. Luckily, I stumbled across the Weather Machines self-released debut, The Sounds of Pseudoscience. This band is a four-piece from South Dakota and brings a heavy dose of 60's influenced rock.

I was alerted to this band and read the songs were crafted in a Ted Leo mold – read short punchy songs with great hooks. While that is true, I really think this 12 song LP is more a tribute to bands like T.Rex and early Brit bands mixed with Ted's first band, Chisel (more Mod than straight ahead Indie/punk rawk). Either way you slice it, the album is amazing. The band is fronted by lead vox/guitar/keyboard player Jason Ward. Ward is an electrical engineer and works at a college, and I think you can really tell this from the lyrical content the band produces. Well written, without trying too hard.

The band is relatively new to the game, which makes this debut effort even more impressive. Although I maybe one of their only fans, this album reminds me of Moods for Moderns debut, but instead of dabbling into the psychedelic side of 60's pop, the Weather Machines plow straight ahead and keep you dancing. The band is offering up some free MP3s – Last Stop – and – Modern Text on Love -. Last Stop is just a great introduction to this band: loud, catchy, fun and danceable.

I wish I could post some other tracks, but this is a self-released album and a band needs to get paid, so head over to http://www.tigersvscrime.com/ and support good music. Highlights for me include:

* Stain of Saints - a solid track, with a nice slow build up and a catchy hook
* Me Too Iguana – a punchy track that makes you want to nod along in self-restrained indie rock fashion - Herohill


Discography

'The Sound Of Pseudoscience' - Tigers Against Crime, Jan. 24, 2006

'Bones & Brains EP' - Tigers Against Crime, Nov. 25, 2008

Photos

Bio

AUGUST 2004: Somewhere deep in an underground laboratory in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the sub-genius mind of classically trained electrical engineer Jason Ward sets out to objectively derive the formula for the perfect pop song. His implements of experimentation are very crude by today’s 'hi-tech’ research standards: human voices, distorted guitars, electric bass, and drums mixed with an occasional organ or tambourine. Even without advanced particle detection equipment and gamma ray spectrometry, however, the results are immediately apparent and startling, leading Ward to postulate the importance of strong hooks and overall simplicity in composition.

DECEMBER 2004: Ward, now backed by 3 dedicated research interns, begins conducting full-scale public demonstrations of his findings. Over the next 12 months, the makeshift ‘band’ arranges multiple comparative performances with actual touring musicians like The Thermals, Melt Banana, Two Gallants, and Elf Power. They also travel to Colorado and Wyoming where they stage high-altitude field exhibitions to the delight of the local Buffalos and Cowboys.

JANUARY 2006: After months of additional experimentation in recording technology, The Weather Machines release their self-produced debut album, 'The Sound of Pseudoscience', which garners comparisons to popular music stars Elvis Costello, The Undertones, Big Star, Cheap Trick, as well as indie rock favorites Ted Leo and Spoon. For such rudimentary experimental results, the effort nets a surprising amount of attention outside the mainstream scientific community, which includes:

*** "Stains of Saints" used in Gray’s Anatomy episode #321 (5/7/07)

*** SPIN.com Band of the Day feature (2/2/06)

*** Spotlight in Entertaiment Weekly’s ‘Download This’ colum (12/23/05)

*** Peak position of #70 on CMJ Radio 200 Chart (week ending 1/17/06)

*** Three weeks in CMJ Radio top 100

*** Top 30 Charts from over 50 stations nationwide

AUGUST 2006: Stricken with a sudden, intense interest in the exciting fields of cryptozoology and vulcanology, Ward relocates to the Pacific Northwest in search of molten adventure and/or bigfoot, determined to grow a recluse-style beard.

FEBRUARY 2008: Half-starved and fully beardless, Ward stumbles out of the woods into Portland, OR, where he hastily assembles his Weather Machines staff in an attempt to musically document his 'lost' 18 months. The results: a 5-song EP entitled "Bones & Brains" released November 25, 2008, and a 12-song LP currently in progress.