Trash Can Sinatras – Weightlifting

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (Part 3)

Three members of Trash Can Sinatras toured the U.S. in 2018, and I went to one of those shows (which was focused on the Cake and I’ve Seen Everything material). It was an acoustic show, and I have to assume I was looking at Frank Reader, John Douglas, and Paul Livingstone, but I guess I don’t really know. It was a subdued, laid back affair – I think I was sitting the whole time – but I was glad I finally got to see (three-fifths of) the band.

What I Think of This Album

The missing “the” from the band name was probably the least controversial change the quintet had to weather by the time of this fourth album. In the intervening years, their U.S. distributor refused their third album (A Happy Pocket); their label Go! Discs went under shortly thereafter (after Polygram purchased a majority stake); and the band had to sell their Shabby Road studio and declare bankruptcy. It took eight years after Pocket for this album to appear; it was the first Sinatras album released in the U.S. in over a decade. The band financed the album themselves, with assistance from the Scottish Arts Council.

There is probably a reason the first cut is titled “Welcome Back,” and that it forcefully jumps out of the speakers, with a muscular sound not really heard on previous albums. As a declaration of a comeback, it is fairly convincing. The Aztec Camera comparisons from the debut reappear on “All the Dark Horses,” which sounds like one of the better tracks from the Stray-era (particularly the mandolin-like guitar part).

Among the few other uptempo tracks are “Freetime,” which features some quality guitar work, and the stinging “It’s A Miracle,” on which the band throws in timpani and strings. The rest is slower stuff, some of which I honestly just skip. Fellow Scots Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub) adds vocals on ballad “Got Carried Away,” which is appropriate, as much of this album sounds like the sibling of his band’s Songs From Northern Britain. “A Coda” is delicate and fragile, with a lovely vocal from Reader (who goes by Francis in the credits this time) and some overdubbed speak-sing that works very well.

The production on “Country Air” saves what otherwise might be a too-sleepy, bland number. Similarly, the gentle wah-wah of “Leave Me Alone” complements Reader’s plaintive, resigned vocal. The title track – relegated to the final slot – offers up optimism and some nice vocals, with unusually present bass and drums for such a light song, but this is sort of a middling track. The album is not an essential, but it will prove satisfying for true fans of the band.

Andy Chase (Ivy) mixed the album.

The Best Thing About This Album

The fact that the band found the wherewithal (spiritual as well as financial) to make this album.

Release Date

August, 2004

The Cover Art

Yeah, I approve. Splashes of color, good use of shadow, nice composition.

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