Breaks in the Sun

WEINLAND is part of a growing community of artists (Norfolk & Western, Horse Feathers and those beloved Decemberists) whose folky pop songs will, as WEINLAND vocalist/guitarist and chief songwriter Adam Shearer puts it, “make you think and sing along.” The Portland quintet can be an unpredictable, powerhouse rock band live; on wax, things are a bit more subdued. The band comes closer to bridging those two worlds with its second full-length, Breaks in the Sun. Shearer’s hushed vocals are still the centerpiece, usually swimming in reverb and recalling Neil Young in his most vulnerable ballads. But the band sounds punchier and … well, sunnier than on 2008’s La Lamentor. “Autumn Blood” could have easily ended up being another slow dirge (“all my blood is sin / for the pain that it caused to your heart”), but instead, drummer Ian Lyles lays down a disco beat over the verses. There are still plenty of sad’ns in the title track and “Sunken Eyes,” all gussied up with Dobros, lap steel and piano. Of course, the melodies will get you every time, but if your only exposure to WEINLAND is through the band’s recordings, you’ll definitely miss out on some of the rock ’n’ roll fun.