The Weightlifters
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The Weightlifters

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"This is a great example of American pop at its sunsoaked, laidback best."

Last of the Sunday Drivers:

This is a great example of American pop at its sunsoaked, laidback best. Think of a smiling Elliot Smith jamming with The Shins. The Weightlifters are actually only one man Adam McLaughlin, a former guitarist in the 90s indie band Idle Wilds. This is his first EP of solo work recorded in his own purpose built studio.

Each track radiates a relaxed surety, and because of that each track feels familiar, 'Oblivion Shines' could have been written for a quirky coming of age movie like Garden State or Good Will Hunting, it is a song that says ‘everything will be good with the world’.

Consequently this isn’t an EP that you should listen to if your feeling ‘ok’, it will probably lead to you feeling so relaxed as to be horizontal, alternatively if you are irrationally angry it may just bring you back to an even keel. ‘Low’ is one of the EP highlights, but it is also one of the most obviously influenced tracks with its dancing melody and guitar/keys harmonies. This is a clear Beatles homage, but surprisingly this isn’t a minus point.

‘Last Of The Sunday Drivers’ isn’t a title designed to set the world on fire, calling to mind middle-aged commuters causing five mile tailbacks on the A240 because they’re too scared to overtake in their Volvo. However, may be McLaughlin is referring to a drive just for the heck of it, no destination planned, a meander along country lanes that we should all indulge in once in a while. - New-Noise.Net

"8 of 10 Stars"

Not so much a band as a marvellous studio project, THE WEIGHTLIFTERS are the brainchild of one Adam McLaughin (AKA Ray O.Sunshine), a Chicago-based Philly native who was previously guitarist for a band called Idle Wilds who were signed to the legendary Memphis label Ardent Records for a while during the 1990s by none other than Big Star drummer Jody Stephens.

All of which is more than enough to prick this writer's ears up, but the great news is that Adam's debut with his new project The Weightlifters has more than enough to recommend it on its' own terms. It's an accomplished six-track EP/mini-LP and serves notice that McLaughlin and his compadres are folk of taste and refinement who know more than a trick or three where the great US power-pop lineage is concerned.

Actually, I say 'compadres', but Adam himself plays virtually all the instruments. The drumming is flown in from Texas (Ron Wikso) and California (Jim McCarty), there's an occasional flourish of strings and McLaughlin's wife Carol contributes some guitar to one tune, but otherwise everything you hear is traceable back to Adam himself.

If you weren't privy to this information, however, you'd automatically assume this was the work of a full and well-drilled outfit because these six tracks are cohesive and layered throughout. Opener 'Undefined' is proud, driving, spangly and forceful all at once and topped off nicely by McLaughlin's attractively breathy vocals. Yes - as with the ensuing 'Low' - it's difficult to deny the Big Star/ Teenage Fanclub leanings at work and play, but importantly McLaughlin's songs are very much their own men even if they do bask in the glow of familiarity at times.

Besides, even the briefest of listens to the title track makes it abundantly clear that Adam is determined to stretch himself as much as possible. This tune is slower, considerably more moody and the execution is more than a little discomfiting. There's a noticeably Elliott Smith-ish timbre in McLaughlin's voice here and thanks to the overall atmosphere, his delivery and a lovely, slow-release guitar solo, 'The Last Of The Sunday Drivers' is a real smouldering classic-in-waiting.

Both 'Weightless & Easy' and 'September' ensure the quality control remains high. Yes, both of these mix and match chiming guitars with autumnal melancholia and edge (the latter especially really lives up to the golden Fall season beautifully) but both have surprises up their sleeve whether they be blasts of backwards-masking ('Weightless & Easy') or 'September'"s super-seductive vibrato guitar part.

The dreamy and gentle postscript, meanwhile, is provided by 'Oblivion Shines' where the acoustic guitars comes out in force for the first time and the ghost of Elliott Smith again smiles benignly. It takes in a lovely chromatic piano manoeuvre and ends with the strings swelling and caressing: the perfect stately finale to a very promising debut indeed. - Whisperin & Hollerin

"Weightlifters exercise independence"

Something about being independent and signed to a major label just doesn't fit. At times I wonder why Death Cab for Cutie (Atlantic Records) is referred to as "indie." I expel a pensive groan of despair, wondering why Rilo Kiley or Built To Spill (Warner Bros. Records) are still referred to as "indie."

Not only is this angst-filled confusion no good for my general well-being, it's no good for a generation of absent-minded indie kids who can't differentiate true independent music from fashionable big business.

But if ever there was a band, or man, needed to exemplify what independent really is, Adam McLaughlin aka Weightlifters does. Formally a member of the Idle Wilds, a stagnant power-pop outfit from the mid 90s, the ex-bassist embodies indie: self-produced, unsigned and craving a sale or two.

By his lonesome but with a dash of instrumental aid from select dilettantes and dabblers, McLaughlin pumps out a short strand of actual independent music, free from domineering production teams in a small studio that he built. That's so indie.

All too often, we listen to these major label, mega-super indie moguls and forget what "indie" actually means. Flowing gently from ear to ear like an indiscrete, newer-age fusion of the Beach Boys (post Brian Wilson) and The Byrds ("Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Turn, Turn, Turn"), The Weightlifters' twee-pop tonality surprises, allowing predisposed notions of low quality, under-produced indie EPs to sink into the many soft folds of layered guitars that envelope any light-hearted indie lover.

Somber like a child's music-box lullaby fading into its final seconds, "The Last of the Sunday Drivers" - vocally and musically - is reminiscent of a less cynical Elliott Smith. "Oblivion Shines" is pure optimism, the antithesis of Smith's "Memory Line," a depressing lyric of social ostracism and inevitable conformity.

"Undefined" is your basic, all-too-typical homage to individuality. The irony? It's vibrant and airy with a touch of twang, repetitive and predictable, tackling the ever-present indie motif of (pshh) individuality. Yet and still, I'd prefer The Weightlifters' set over a Rilo Kiley and Coldplay mash up in an oversold amphitheater any day. When your live equipment budget exceeds a couple hundred thousand, the "indie" factor seems lost.

In all, "Last of the Sunday Drivers" is good old American blood, sweat and tears hard at work, toiling in homemade studios and releasing low-volume extended plays for those fortunate enough to stumble upon them.

Our nation touts independence on its sleeve and so do The Weightlifters, molding together the best, most "indie" music I've come across in some time.

-- Julian Williams - SMU Daily Campus

"A masterpiece of grand yet understated pop"

It's been a good month for exciting debuts, and here's yet another one, this time coming from a new band from Chicago called the Weightlifters! Mostly a solo project from a fellow named Adam McLaughlin (and not Ray O. Sunshine, as the liner notes would have you believe), the music on this EP is melodic power pop that sounds quite similar to Teenage Fanclub; and as some of you know, I'll happily follow any band that shares TFC's glorious sound! His quieter songs (namely "Oblivion Shines" and the title track) actually have more in common with Elliott Smith, but they're still just as good as the catchier, janglier tunes, like "Low" and "September". Really, this whole EP is a masterpiece of grand yet understated pop, and I'll be quite looking forward to hearing a lot more from them soon! *MTQ=6/6

*"every record is rated on its Mix Tape Quotient, or MTQ. This is the number of songs worthy of repeated listenings on that album. For example, a great 3-song 7" would get 3/3 or a hit-and-miss 12-song cd would get 7/12." - IndiePages

"The only apparent downside to Last of the Sunday Drivers is that it isn't a long-player."

Well-versed in the ways of power pop from his days as the guitarist for Philadelphia band Idle Wilds (who were signed to the Ardent label in the mid-1990's by Big Star's Jody Stephens), Adam McLaughlin has used his time as the sole member of The Weightlifters (he played most of the instruments and sang all of the vocals) to craft a small debut collection of exquisite indie pop songs that stand easily with the best that The Pernice Brothers or New Pornographers have offered to date.

A six-song EP, Last of the Sunday Drivers has all the bases covered. Chiming guitars? Check. Tambourines? Check. Swirling keyboards? Check. Na na na's and woo hoo hoo's? Check and check! Not to give the impression that the songwriting is overly derivative or imitative - while the guy isn't sailing uncharted waters, the sea isn't exactly teeming with boats either. Now based in Chicago, McLaughlin is a nimble musician who has mastered the art of making grim takes on reality sound like gumdrops (a Pernice specialty) with his hushed vocals layered sweetly over the more substantial bones of the songs ( e.g. "Undefined" or "Weightless and Easy"). The last track on the CD, "Oblivion Shines", shimmers with acoustic guitar and keyboards and brings to mind thoughts of Elliott Smith in a sunnier time.

Unlike most debuts (or follow up efforts, for that matter), every song has earned its place on this record - there's not a skipper or a throwaway in the bunch. The only apparent downside to Last of the Sunday Drivers is that it isn't a long-player. And, as is often the case with exquisite pop songs that aren't heard by enough people, the irony is unfortunate. This is popular music as it should be.

-- Written by Kirsten Klym -

"There is a bit of a Big Star sound here, but more like Big Star by way of Teenage Fanclub."

Last of the Sunday Drivers:

This is the brainchild of Chicago's Adam McLaughlin, former guitarist for the Philly power pop band The Idle Wilds (not to be confused with Idlewild), who were signed to a then-revived Ardent label by Big Star's Jody Stephens in the late 90s. There is a bit of a Big Star sound here, but more like Big Star by way of Teenage Fanclub. It's really quite good stuff, and you can stream the full EP at their (his) site. - Absolute Powerpop

"Can't wait for a full-length! EXCELLENT!!!"

Last Of The Sunday Drivers:

This very promising and impressive debut 6-song EP from former Idle Wilds guitarist Adam McLaughlin under the moniker The Weightlifters is virtually a one man effort. It's music that was written for a band that doesn't exist yet. Adam plays most of the instruments, getting help from a few exceptional musicians found scattered around the country. Drums are flown in from Texas and California. Strings come by way of Oregon. His wife, Carol, also makes a few appearances on guitar and handclaps on the record. We always thought of Adam as the quiet one in his Idle Wilds days, but he steps to the fore quite confidently and nicely on this effort on which he proudly wears both his influences and history on his sleeve! "Undefined" is a Posies/Idle Wilds-inspired, thickly layered crunchy guitar, harmony-filled nugget! "Low" and the title track are both jangly, harmony-filled, Teenage Fanclub-inspired numbers that also feature some tasty electric piano and Hammond flourishes! "Oblivion Shines" is a gorgeous, Elliott Smith-like acoustic ballad! Can't wait for a full-length! EXCELLENT!!! - Kool Kat Musik

"Leaves you wanting more and more"

Last of the Sunday Drivers constitutes the first release by The Weightlifters and leaves you wanting more and more. From the great rhythms and the excellent alternation between a fast and slow tempo on several of the songs to the soaring vocals, this sounds like a record out of the early '70s and would fit perfectly to that scene. The Weightlifters is headed by musical mastermind Adam McLaughlin, former guitarist of Idle Winds. McLaughlin plays most of the instruments on this release and receives help from several highly talented musicians. The musicianship shows as the first song, "Undefined," opens with a great rhythm and vocals that seem to lift the soul. The music sounds similar to Fountains of Wayne and Apples in Stereo and is slightly uplifting with claps and a chorus of "na, na, na"; the music envelops you in a feeling of warmth.

"Low" follows and continues the trend of warmth but ramps up the guitars a little further with an impressive little solo to open the song and plenty of perfect fills. The chorus blends perfectly with the song and makes the song one of the most noteworthy on the disc. The title track is a five-minute lamentation that provides an excellent break in the proceedings. This is the first song that truly sounds sad, and it has a solo to match it. While not one of the strongest tracks, it has a chorus that gets stuck in your head and is still worth a listen, for excellent guitar and lyrical quality.

"Weightless and Easy" plays exactly as it sounds. It opens with a pulsing rhythm that continues through the song and yields to an excellent chorus that proclaims, "make it large, larger than history." The guitar work is truly excellent, and the vocals match it very well. This is an excellent track to pick up the mood. It also shows its roots with a Wah-driven solo before the final chorus. "September" continues the trend of excellent guitar with a solo to open a calmer song. Like its name, this song signals the autumn of this record. It slows down the pace slightly before the closer, "Oblivion Shines."

Acoustic driven and lyrically beautiful, the closer leaves you truly sad that this EP is over. McLaughlin pulls out all tricks for this final song, including a piano and a set of soaring oho's in the background. This song leaves no doubt to the ability of The Weightlifters. This truly is an excellent EP and will leave you desiring more and more music from a soon-to-be famous artist. -

"With beautiful imagery, inspired melodies, and clever lyrics, this EP should not be passed up by any music lover."

First and foremost, get any thoughts out of your head about hard-bodied people with giant shoulders sweating in a gym. The Weightlifters new EP Last of the Sunday Drivers has nothing to do with pumping iron, nor does it sound like anything you might associate with doing so; we can probably be thankful for that too.

The Weightlifters is actually the brainchild of Adam McLaughlin (a.k.a. Ray O. Sunshine), who takes it upon himself to be a jack-of-all-trades and play a total of eight different instruments on this release (nine if you count the “handclaps” listed in the liner notes). In fact, the only sounds you’ll hear on this album not played by McLaughin are the drums, strings, and one track’s electric guitar. Sometimes I believe there’s a certain stigma attached to the concept of a one-man-band; I know I personally never go in with much hope. Well, I’ve been proved wrong in the past and I can happily say that this time I was proved very, very wrong.

There’s quite a bit to like about Last of the Sunday Drivers. The Weightlifters sound is a blend of modern era pop-rock and melodies reminiscent of pop music from around the 60’s era of music. Within these six songs, you’ll find a string of well-produced melodies and captivating choruses. “Undefined” and “Low” are two bouncy, upbeat sounding songs that will have you tapping your foot right away. I feel like they induce a sense of imagery that paints a rather bright and coloring scene. However, if you pay close attention to the lyrics of “Low,” you may find it’s not quite as lighthearted as the melody presents. The end result is a particularly interesting contrast.

Then you have the albums title track, which stands out with a more melancholy tune. Rather than feeling out of place on an otherwise upbeat album, the song actual adds more depth and feeling. I also have to give a nod to the guitar solo in "Weightless and Easy," which introduces a funky rhythm into the beat that actually fits quite well. "Oblivion Shines," at its heart, is a very relaxed, acoustic track with the perfect melody to put on and mellow out to.

Last of the Sunday Drivers really is a wonderful CD to just sit back and enjoy while taking a moment to unwind from that hectic life we all lead. It even takes the time to remind you how rare that’s becoming, if you pay close enough attention.

McLaughlin has a talent for writing seemingly simple, yet effective, lyrics. Much like the tone of the songs, the words have that classic era influence without losing any sort of modern pertinence. The flow and prose of "September" shows off this quality quite well:

Quick before this fickle flame is smothered.
Quick before, in time, it is discovered:
I am September, and I need your gentle June to make me feel better.
And I need your hot July to warm me.
November is a bore - vintage and obscure, and heavy as heartbreak.
Baby don't you weep; nothing's ours to keep ...

The seasonal analogy is a very big draw for me here. For one, it’s used in a pretty interesting way, but it also makes the song easy to relate to. In many ways, McLaughlin’s lyrics offer a sort of universal relevance that spans generations, old and new. Some of the best lyrical work, however, comes within the title track. I can see why this track also became the album’s title, as it is, without a doubt, the most powerful and striking song on the EP. Now, I don’t want to make presumptions about the lyrics here, but I personally find them to be kind of chilling:

I've just got a hunch Serenity is getting bored.
Need to settle down.
Reason's racing off at breakneck speed.
Need to settle down.
Everybody knows a taste is a lethal dose.
Say goodbye to the last of the Sunday drivers.
Comfort is chemical, and I've got the shakes.
I quit cold-turkey. I guess I lost faith in its antiquated design ...

I can see such brilliantly expressed despair within these lines. The idea of comfort and free time as an “antiquated design” is such a depressing thought yet also should strike a chord with anyone who can’t seem to find a moment in their busy day to stop and relax for a bit (and lets face it, that’s a lot of us). Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but by naming the album Last of the Sunday Drivers, it’s as if McLaughlin is saying the Weightlifters are a sense of the last of a kind and this collection of songs is to be used to capture that infrequent moment of calm, personal pleasure. Of course, I don’t want to get too complex here; its all about taking it easy after all.

Listening to this album feels like hearing something that’s definitely new and original, yet takes you back to a time long gone (even if you weren’t actually alive then, like myself). With beautiful imagery, inspired melodies, and clever lyrics, this EP should not be passed up by any music lover. The album may be short, but just look at it this way: these Weightlifters happen to have more brain than brawn. So take a moment, relax, and enjoy this album.

-- By Thomas D. Szewc - Magazine


The Weightlifters released their first EP, Last of the Sunday Drivers, in July 2007. The CD is available at CD, iTunes and other popular outlets. Adam is currently working on the next Weightlifters record which will be available this summer (2008).

All tracks from Last of the Sunday Drivers are streaming here and on the Weightlifters' website (link below). You can also download the songs on the Audio tab, but the quality is only 128kbps in order to stay under the Sonicbids ceiling. You can download 4 of the songs at 160kbps on the band's myspace page.



The Weightlifters are an indie-pop/rock group from Chicago, IL; the released its first disc in July 2007 - an ambitious 6-song EP called "Last of the Sunday Drivers"; the music is moody and melodic with 60s tunefulness and 70s atmosphere – not retro, but not unfamiliar. It takes chances and will surprise you, but not just for the sake of doing so.

The truth is that there are no Weightlifters to speak of. This is the brainchild of Adam McLaughlin, a Philadelphia-area transplant living in Chicago. Adam plays most of the instruments on Last of the Sunday Drivers, getting help from a few exceptional musicians found scattered around the country. Drums are flown in from Texas and California. Strings come by way of Oregon. His wife, Carol, also makes a few appearances on the record.

A bit of history... Adam is the former guitarist for the Philly power pop band, Idle Wilds, which was signed to the Ardent record label by Big Star drummer Jody Stephens in the mid 90s. In addition to releasing a couple full-length records, Idle Wilds notably appeared on the well-received "Poptopia!: Power Pop Classics Of The '90's" compilation with bands like Jellyfish, The Posies, and Matthew Sweet, as well as on the recently-released Big Star tribute album, "Small World", with Wilco, Teenage Fanclub and others.

What's Adam been doing since then? Well... that would be a long story. Skipping up to a couple years ago, he built a small studio and began to record demos of songs he’d been working on. Back in the summer of 2006, he decided to make a record, because it’s more fun if people actually hear the music. He continues to write and record songs, work on his studio, and intends to make more records. In fact, he's currently working on the next Weightlifters record which will be out in the summer (2008).

Influences are truly too many to list, but if you like Teenage Fanclub, Matthew Sweet, The New Pornographers, Elliott Smith, Built to Spill, The Apples in Stereo, you might like The Weightlifters.