Illuminated by the Light(Drag City)

Weird War 

Illuminated by the Light(Drag City)

With its hungover vocals, hallucinatory echo effects and saucy attitude, Weird War may seem like just another retro band. In truth, it's a group of playwrights. Each track on Illuminated sets up a neat little world, complete with characters, a plot and a set built from evocative musical cues. A woman leaves her old man for a biker gang (whose motors rev in the driveway as she writes her Dear John letter) on "Motorcycle Mongoloid." "See About Me" takes us into the suburban home of a man and his mail-order bride. On "Mental Poisoning," the band packs up its trippiest guitars and sojourns in 1960s Morocco, with a layover in China to pick up some kung fu gongs. The band takes a big old bite out of the bass line from "Play That Funky Music" to set the stage for "Girls Like That," a conversation between a guy and a gal about the opposite sex's questionable taste in partners. We've heard most of these stories before, but Weird War gives such a rousing performance that a little redundancy can be forgiven.

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