- Courtesy The Weary Times
Most modern albums have a general theme or sound, or at the very least can be shoved into a box with a "genre" label fastened neatly above. That's not the case for the debut release from Boise band The Weary Times. The self-titled frosh album drops Friday, July 19.
"My musical tastes are all over the place," said the band's singer and songwriter, Ryan Curtis, whose gravelly (but surprisingly pleasant) voice is the album's true throughline.
Release-related events for the band are as scattered as the genres that inspired the album. The band will play a free, all-ages show at The Record Exchange on Thursday, July 18, starting at 6 p.m., followed by a live set on Radio Boise and a performance at Neurolux with Boise songwriter Johnny Boy Kunk at 8:30 p.m. the next day. Tickets are $6 at the door. Pay $15, and they'll throw in a copy of the new CD.
The record opens with a smooth, sultry rock and roll jam, "Best For You," that takes the listener back in time to 1970s Los Angeles, watching tail lights fade into the desert. From there, it skips between rock and roll, blues, doo wop and even some acoustic Americana flair. It's a veritable mish-mash of genres, styles and tones.
Curtis' voice serves as a confluence between the album's otherwise disparate tracks. Another staple in the band's musical presence is the dark lyrics. Most songs have to deal with love and loss, drinking and sobriety or just feeling down—common in blues-influenced music. Curtis said his lyrics don't necessarily sing from experience—rather, he's creating a character and writing how he would feel in a certain situation. It's an empathetic approach to songwriting that feels personal and authentic, even if the subject is indeed fictional.
Curtis has played bluegrass and americana music for the better part of the last decade and a half. Until this project, he hadn't owned an electric guitar for years, he said.
"It wasn't necessarily taking something from bluegrass and trying to melt it in," Curtis said. "It was just [us] trying to have a more rock and roll thing."
Curtis said this particular collection of songs is almost a callback to rock and roll's early days, when songs would jump back and forth. Perhaps the most perplexing, but also one of the most fun, tracks on this album is "I Swore," a surf rock number with instrumentals reminiscent of the late Dick Dale. One of Curtis and the band's favorites is "I Can Tell," a cover of an old Bo Diddley track the band has been performing since it formed four years ago.
"We decided to throw that on there because it's been part of the group since the beginning," he said.
Four years may seem like a long time for a band to go without releasing an album, but when The Weary Times was born, it was a side project. Curtis said almost all of the other band's members were in other bands, and not cutting an album in all that time was "probably a bit of procrastination." Through time and fate, the band ended up becoming the main project for most of the band's members.
"I think that was maybe kind of the reason we decided to get serious with it," Curtis said.
Curtis has experience releasing records. His previous band Curtis/Sutton & Scavengers self-released two records. Over the years, he has learned the ins and outs of releasing records without label support. He picked up business-side skills like drafting press releases, booking shows, and selling albums and merchandise—key elements in sustaining a band that he learned during that period and was able to port to his current project.
"The biggest challenge of doing it on your own is you don't have that distribution and promotional aspect of it," he said. "You could hire a PR person but it's kind of expensive."
In the last few years, he has also discovered just how supportive Boise's music scene is to up-and-coming bands.
Curtis has lived and played all over the country. The Michigan native spent years in Chicago before venturing out west to Los Angeles, but finally settled in Boise six years ago. Despite big cities' reputation for bustling music cultures, Boise is easily the best in his experience.
"There's definitely a camaraderie of musicians," he said. "We always support each other, it's very interconnected."