Weep in the Car: Driving in L.A. While Listening to Alate

Weep’s new album, Alate. (Photo: Liz O.)

I have a ritual for new CDs, if you could call it that. I put the disc inside the player in my car and I listen. If I like it, it stays in place for anywhere from three days to a week. I let the CD lapse 10, 20, 30 times. I don’t use shuffle. I don’t skip tracks and I don’t repeat songs.

By telling you this, I can anticipate a couple different reactions. One is, OMG, Liz, are you so lazy that you can’t swap discs when you’re stopped at a light? The other, more likely, response is, why don’t you just upload everything to your phone and plug that into the dash? All of this, though, would be defeating the purpose.

If I like an album, I want to live with it for a while and, since I’m in Los Angeles, I live in my car.

Right now, the album that’s overworking my CD player is Alate by Weep. It’s not out yet. I was very fortunate to get an advance of it. (Thanks to Doc from Weep and Sam from Projekt Records.) It’s a CD I like a lot, but I won’t be reviewing it on account of the fact that I’m actively pursuing work that involves never writing an album review again.

Here are the basics. Weep is a band fronted by Doc Hammer. You might recognize him from The Venture Bros. Also, if you’re a super huge music nerd who prefers the dark, ethereal stuff, you may also recognize him from previous bands, like Mors Syphilitica and Requiem in White. His latest Weep release is probably the most “pop” sort of album I’ve heard from him, but that’s only if you consider albums like Echo and the Bunnymen’s Ocean Rain and Jesus and Mary Chain’s Psychocandy to be pop. I do, so that works.

The inside of Alate with graphics by Doc Hammer.

Yesterday, I had a spat of ridiculous L.A. driving. I had to go to Meltdown Comics, the store that kindly supports the profiling adventures of Shannon & I. This required heading west through Hollywood at rush hour. You don’t want to do this. You should take the Metro. I do, unless I have to go to the non-Metro adjacent Westside afterwards, which was the case yesterday. At rush hour, nearly every street that you think is an alternate route (Franklin and Fountain, I’m looking at you) is jammed with people who sincerely believe that honking alleviates traffic.  At various angles– ones that only exist in intersections– sunset crashes through your window, rendering you temporarily blind as you try to make that right turn.

Alate finished its first lap when I got to Meltdown. I don’t remember what it sounded like that first time, I only remember that it kept the road rage at bay. After taking care of business, and picking up two Junko Mizuno comic books, I jumped back into the the car so I could meet up with my boyfriend at Westside Pavilion, a commute that makes Hollywood driving look easy. I can’t describe traffic on the Westside without having a panic attack, but I can tell you that I listened to Alate two-and-a-half more times on this leg of the journey.

Driving in L.A. is a very lonely thing. You’re there, by yourself, in this machine, surrounded by all these other people inside machines, and there’s no room for communication outside of the occasional, “Fuck you, asshole!” So, when I’m listening to a CD, any CD, over and over again, it starts to feel like there’s a person there telling me his/her life story. And, like a car conversation, you zone in and out, shifting focus from the story to the jerk who doesn’t bother to look before changing lanes. So, then you hop back into this conversation, and you realize that you missed something important.

When I let the CDs lapse, it’s like playing the conversation on a loop. The stuff that I should have heard the first or second time, I catch on the third round. I notice specific guitar riffs, synth lines, lyrics. I’ll peel back more layers of the production. Then, eventually, I’ll start the debate over whether or not I’ll play any of the songs in my sets. There are a couple songs off of Alate that I’d like to spin sometime soon. I just haven’t figured out which one.

Like I said, I’m not reviewing the album, but I will let it be known that, overall, I listened to Alate four or five times yesterday. Thanks to the album, I got through a day of L.A. driving without cussing out anyone. I didn’t cry when faced with the reality of how long it takes to get through a Westside intersection. I didn’t come home shaking. I think that’s a pretty good recommendation.

Weep’s album, Alate, hits stores in August, but you can pre-order your copy now through Projekt Records.

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