Trash Can Sinatras - Weightlifting

By Chason Wainwright

“Weightlifting” is an Exercise in Superior Songwriting

The lyrics to the opener, “Welcome Back,” on the Trash Can Sinatras new album, Weightlifting, could easily be a message to the band themselves. A few seconds into “Welcome Back” Francis Reader, the Trash Can Sinatras’ front man, sings: “Welcome back, back to health, back from the edge where we found you.” These lyrics mirror the reality the band has faced since 1996’s A Happy Pocket. After the release of A Happy Pocket, the band ended up declaring bankruptcy, but due to their love of making music together they managed to come back from the brink of financial ruin to release Weightlifting, a musically solid collection of songs that are as good, if not better (in some respects), that their previous albums. That is to say if you are a fan of their earlier albums, you will surely love the new record. Weightlifting picks up where A Happy Pocket left off and the two albums can be played back-to-back seamlessly despite the eight years that have passed between the two releases.

The Trash Can Sinatras have not really experimented very much on Weightlifting, instead choosing to stick with what they know best: extremely melodic, guitar driven pop. One thing that is noticeable on Weightlifting is that the majority of the tracks are fairly slower-tempo numbers. With the exceptions of “It’s a Miracle” and “Welcome Back,” the new record is very mellow. You could say that “Weightlifting” is a calmer, softer side of the Trash Can Sinatras, but that’s almost redundant because the band has never been known for producing blistering rock songs. After the high-powered opener, the Trash Can Sinatras glide right into “Got Carried Away,” which begins with a gorgeous guitar arpeggio. Reader sings “Wait ‘til I get over this phrase, a weakness hard to break. Was that a knock on an early grave? I’ve gone wrong way to be saved.” As they have been on previous Trash Can Sinatras releases, the lyrics on this record; are thoughtful reflections on life, never boring and often quite remarkable. “Freetime,” one of the stronger tracks on Weightlifting, has an infectious melody and optimistic lyrics: “Oh my lucky number’s been rolling all summer, And when the sun shines. I celebrate the beauty in life – it’s my duty in life.” Guitarists John Douglas and Paul Livingston weave lovely guitar textures all over the new album, utilizing guitar effects like the wah-wah and tremolo to create airy atmospherics. The best examples are on the slower-tempo songs “Usually” and “Leave Me Alone.”

The album ends with the title track, one of the most lush and beautiful songs on the album, full of interwoven guitar arpeggios and Reader urging: “It’s been a lovely winter hibernating away. You need a little sunlight on that face … You could make your way out, if you lay down the load.” There really is not one bad track on Weightlifting. Since their debut album, 1990’s Cake, the Trash Can Sinatras have managed to maintain an impeccable quality that sets their music apart from the music of many of their peers. It is the rare band that can continue to put out brilliant records 15 years after their debut. The Trash Can Sinatras are one such band.

Although A Happy Pocket was sadly never released in the U.S., dedicated fans have surely gotten their hands on it by now. Thank you cards can be sent to Spin Art Records for agreeing to release Weightlifting in the U.S. Spin Art has issued the Cd in two versions. The regular version has 12 tracks. The deluxe version has the same 12 tracks as the regular version plus two bonus acoustic versions of “All the Dark Horses” and “Weightlifting.” The deluxe version also comes with a DVD featuring live versions of five songs from the new album; recorded in Los Angeles on March 16, 2004 for the KCRW “Morning Becomes Eclectic” radio program. The DVD is excellent, giving a living personality to some of the new songs. The most wonderful thing is seeing the raw emotion conveyed by Reader when he sings. He often closes his eyes, visibly straining at times to reach the higher notes in order to make the performance perfect. It is just a preview of what fans can expect this fall and winter when the Trash Can Sinatras tour the U.S., Europe and Japan.