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The Weeks tackle heavy and light on Dear Bo Jackson

Swinging for the Fence

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At first listen, perhaps the most striking thing about The Weeks is their strong resemblance to Kings of Leon — the Kings in fact signed The Weeks to their label, Serpents and Snakes, last summer. From their energetic blend of gospel-infused soul, nostalgic country and contemporary indie rock, to singer Cyle Barnes' voice, a delicate balance of soul-baring preacher and party dude reminiscent of Anthony Kiedis and KOL's Caleb Followill, it would be easy to mark The Weeks down as Princes of Leon. Perhaps Dear Bo Jackson (out April 30) is the record the Kings would like to make themselves, if they could mitigate their tensions. The Weeks are already seven-year veterans in their mid-20s, and Jackson, their fourth record on their second label deal, has all the hallmarks of a hit with the demographic whom the Kings held in the palms of their hands.

Despite the record's party-worthiness, The Weeks deserve credit for taking a head-on approach to serious discussions. The lead single, "Brother in the Night," is a reflection on a life of crime, related by one of a pair of brothers who are armed robbers. In the accompanying music video, a grim play on popular promo clips featuring musicians goofing off, Barnes and band illustrate the brothers' fall into their life of crime, while he sings the anthemic chorus, "If my Southern heart's still pumping blood / I'll bury my money in the mighty Mississippi mud." This is an even more incisive and world-weary expression than "The House That We Grew Up In," the lead from their Gutter Gaunt Gangster EP, itself a reflection on maturing as artists under the cold light of public criticism: "Oh–oh, let the band play / I'm being broken up and ripped apart by X-rays."

Combined with their knack for strong melodies and catchy hooks, this grounding portends a good outlook for The Weeks to have a long and healthy career. Whether they will maintain their tether to earth through their potential rise to stardom remains to be seen, but they're already handling sensitive issues far better than seasoned pros Brad Paisley and LL Cool J.

Email music@nashvillescene.com.

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