Western Mass’s Weege and The Wondertwins turn it to 11 on the jazzometer and when listening to them, they send you to the nearest time machine. You emerge in a time where jazz was all around you and the speakeasy lounges were a dime a dozen.
Do I Seem Weird Lately? is their follow up album to their debut, Marigold, which was released in 2017. The album starts with “Always” and I immediately think of the Frank Sinatra classic by the same name. I had to ask if it was inspired by that song, since their sound and style is picture-book Sinatra. “Total coincidence!” vocalist Lexi Weege (“Shatzie”) explained, “We are Italian and Frank is kinda our Messiah. However, fun fact, ‘New York, New York’ is [bassist/singer] Big Sal’s go-to karaoke song.”
The band pulls influences from all around, including Frank Zappa and The Beatles along with blues and jazz. You can hear it very clear through their style. The album screams confidence, and morphs your body into a stance where you feel like you can take on the world.
There isn’t one main vocalist — I love that — it brings a more diverse sound to the existing sound to make it more dynamic. They also all contribute to the writing process. Often times, Weege and AJ (“Big Sal”) write together, while other times, twin brothers, AJ and guitarist/singer, Tommy (“Sunny D”) write together. “Sometimes one of us will bring a tune to the group and the rest of the band adds the cherry on top,” Weege said.
The title track of the album throws off a Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper vibe. It’s an elegant tune where they all lend their vocals in a layered summery frosted cake. The lyrics are dark, however. “What’s the point of living if all I’ve got’s my health / What’s the point of living if all I’ve got’s myself.” Then it continues with, “I wish I could say it will be all OK/ But we know how this kind of song ends/ Just climb onto bed with the one you wish to wed and pretend, pretend, pretend.” The last song on the album, “Birds in the Sky,” apes the tone and vibe of the title track: dark disguised by light.
“Anxious Ass!” is fun and energetic, and makes you want to get up and dance. “Damn The Wind” is that song you listen to on a rainy day when you need a nicer shade of gray. The twangy guitar and layered vocals are mixed casually in a bluesy way.
When I heard “Sourpuss” I instantly pegged it as my new theme song. I love this track. It’s powerful and ultra jazzed up, but the lyrics are what really got me. “Empathy’s got the best of me / Sadness makes me lazy / I don’t want to move, I don’t wanna read / Just shut those curtains and let me be.” The words are raw and true and highly relatable. Weege makes it all sound so empowering to have these very normal issues. I thank you, Ms. Weege, for writing this. “I’m manic depressive, compulsive obsessive and that’s alright with me / They call me sourpuss / Don’t tell me to be happy when I don’t feel so good.”
Track third from the last, “Why Can’t I Hear the Birds Anymore” really displays Weege’s vocal range. She morphs her voice into so many forms that you could even think — for a moment — there are multiple singers lending to this track. Multiple vocal disorder sends you chills the louder you raise the volume. The poetic lyrics add even more character to the tune, “Your hands are always busy / Late into the night and these days when I dream / I only seem to dream in black and white.”
The album was recorded, mixed and mastered by Andy Casella at both Spirithouse and Shape Recording. You can tell Casella is a perfectionist in sound. This album along with other recordings I’ve heard has that crisp, fresh, yet old-school sound that mixes nostalgia with newfound feelings.
Along with Weege and the twins, percussionist Erek Brown and guitarist Nick Ferrara blend together so well to produce this modernized, jazzified blues suit that reads “one size fits all.” I asked about their naked bodies in the tub on the album cover by Maria Klein and I got the best response ever: “We here at Weege & The Wondertwins value good personal hygiene. A clean band is a happy band!”
Weege hosts a monthly songwriter series on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. at Hawks and Reed in Greenfield. This upcoming one, on May 21, she will rock out a solo country set, and other performers including Sunny D will also be presented. The following week the band will be heading out West for a tour. They return to our neck of the woods on June 21 for a show at the lovely Dream Away Lodge in Becket.
Jennifer Levesque writes Valley Show Girl. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or more info on www.valleyshowgirl.com.