Surprise, surprise: Funky Donny Fred shows up to add his two cents about a band named Coke Weed.
FDF: Hey man, you know me.
LN: Go ahead and say it…
FDF: COKE WEED! Heh heh… but really, I go way back with this band.
LN: That’s right, FD, we saw Coke Weed a couple of years ago at the O+ Festival in upstate New York, where I thought they were one of the stand-outs in a 30+ line-up. The charms of this Maine band are grounded in their unironic pursuit of classic rock in the most catholic sense: two-guitar choogle, the careful crafting of a repetitive three-chord song, the clash of their 70s strut and these Bar Harbor nerds’ appearance (hello, Rick Nielsen!), the predictable yet still heady overdrive on a guitar solo. As Coke Weed’s new single “All The Shades” demonstrates, no one’s reinventing the wheel here, yet it all works well in the able hands of songwriter Milan McAlevy and front-woman Nina D.
FDF: Oh man, her eyes. I still remember her eyes!
LN: Agreed, Nina D. is a charismatic performer with a magnetic gaze who never loses her cool even as the band bounces and sweats behind her.
FDF: She’s like Lana Del Rey behind the counter of a head shop.
LN: You would have to make that reference, wouldn’t you? Coke Weed’s new album, Mary Weaver, finds the band with a new bee in its bonnet, working up a funkier sound with mid-tempo disco rhythms and a spacy EQ on the guitars. Tracks like “Dead Man Walking” reveal the band expanding its 70s-bar-band foundations to encompass Bowie & Iggy’s Berlin-era recordings.
FDF: Hmm, not sure about that call. Let’s split the difference and say this sounds like Some Girls-era Stones.
LN: Whatever, Mary Weaver indicates some shit-or-get-off-the-pot decisions by the band, like moving Nina D.’s vocals front and center. Sure, I kind of miss the friction of the his-and-her vocals when she and McAlevy used to sing together on previous albums, which to my ears recalled yet another classic rock style, old L.A. bands like X, Divine Horsemen, the Alley Cats… But those are admittedly esoteric references, and Coke Weed’s resolve to pursue a more populist if still quite authentic sensibility has paid off on this new album. I think Mary Weaver is Coke Weed’s strongest album yet.
FDF: Yeah, just as long people recognize that this is a Coke Weed record. Look at that album cover: this isn’t an album called Coke Weed by a singer named Mary Weaver. It’s Coke Weed, dammit! Hee hee…
A sociology professor living in upstate New York, Leonard Nevarez is patiently waiting until his kids are old enough for a family roadtrip to Maryland Deathfest. He blogs at musicalurbanism.org and is writing a book about Martha & the Muffins and the late 70s/early 80s downtown Toronto music scene.