WLFC Weekly Review: John K Samson’s Winter Wheat

By Bobby Beebe 

In the early 2000s the Weakerthans, a four-piece indie rock band from Canada, captured the emotion of being young and confused almost perfectly. Their break-up in 2014 came as a surprise and disappointment to fans who had grown up with the band. However, lead singer John K. Samson’s latest record, Winter Wheat, fills that void in a lot of ways. While Samson wrote all of the songs, many of his fellow bandmates joined in to help produce and compose the record, making it feel more like a Weakerthans record than any of Samson’s other solo work. The album is hesitantly coming of age, as it grapples with the transitions of becoming fully adult. The album reads as a group of short stories, mostly with main characters at wit’s end. There are stories of addiction and rehabilitation (“17th Street Treatment Center”), burnt-out white collar workers (“Vampire Alberta Blues”) and a public TV station (“VPW 13 Blues”) which all tell the stories of romantics beginning to get cynical about romanticism. The most poignant track on the record, “Postdoc Blues” tells the story of a young academic, struggling to find meaning in his or her work. It’s jangly, upbeat pace and Samson’s soft vocals create a sort sonic space, riddled with anxiety and hope simultaneously. This album is nothing if not cathartic. Samson seems to be assuring the fans that have grown up leaning on him that no matter how bad things get, they can and will be OK. 

WLFC Top 10: 

1. LVL Up – The Closing Door 

2. Okkervil River – Okkervil River RIP 

3. Alex G – Sorry 

4. Glass Animals – Season 2 Episode 3 

5. De La Soul – Pain 

6. Kings of Leon – Waste A Moment 

7. Teenage Fanclub – I’m In Love 

8. Air Traffic Controller – The House 

9. John K. Samson – Postdoc Blues 

10. Angel Olsen – Shut Up and Kiss Me

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