The Weakerthans – Reconstruction Site
Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2005
Listening to this album again is recalling an incredibly cliched Proustian flashback.I distinctly remember buying this on CD when I was 16. I drove over to the local record store (i.e. Best Buy) and picked it up right after school and put it in my car when I got back to the parking lot. This record taught me about Elizabethian sonnets (the tracks “Manifest,” “Hospital Vespers,” and “Past Due” are written as such and bookend the album (or serve as checkpoints, as you can't have 3 bookends)), which I tried writing for a month because I was in high school and high school was all about trying to be the next great American writer. That and learning the chords to “The Reasons,” recording it to my 4-track and giving it to a girl I liked. It's weird how I draw from this album. Earlier this year while playing a solo show, I ALMOST played “Benediction,” but decided against it because I couldn't find someone to harmonize with me (on that song, John K Samson harmonizes with his wife, Christine Fellows, who is an amazing musician and songwriter in her own right).
Reconstruction Site is MUCH more upbeat than Left and Leaving, full of wonderful pop jams. The aforementioned “The Reasons” is Samson's attempt at writing a perfect, no frills, straight-up love song and it's landed on a good percentage of my mix tapes over the years for the girls that really mattered. “Plea from a Cat Named Virtute” is so hopelessly uplifting I smile every time I hear it (or used to, until they released “Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure,” which details the cat's running away and forgetting of her name, it's the saddest thing ever). There's that awesome 70s guitar solo-breakdown thing in the middle of “Uncorrected Proofs” that never sounds cheesy, and there's the harmonies of Christine Fellows on “Benediction” that make the song so incredibly fragile. There's the fuck-you to the powers that be destroying Samson's hometown “One Great City,” complete with the refrain “I hate Winnipeg” that could be just about anywhere. It's that love-hate relationship you have with any town you will ever live in. The countryfied, lap-steel heavy “A New Name for Everything” used to be my least favorite track on the record but I've grown to love it and realized it's one of the best-written songs on the album (I ripped off the line “You're broke and you're breaking—a tired shoelace or a wave” for the first song I ever wrote).
Though it's more upbeat than its predecessor, it also features an incredible range that hits on nostalgia, loneliness, and regret (“Time's Arrow” led me to one of my favorite books of all time, Time's Arrow by Martin Amis). Fuck, this record is just as amazing as I thought it was six years ago and I never, ever get sick of listening to the Weakerthans. They're still the #1 band I recommend to people who ask about music because you simply cannot go wrong. Unless you don't have a heart, or something like that.
Follow the link below for the amazing video of "The Reasons"