Mike Weterings Band,
Aluminum Sea
(self-produced, 1998)

The Mike Weterings Band CD Aluminum Sea is folk-rock with the emphasis on rock, featuring strong musical arrangements on original, mostly likeable songs.

The musicians are Lorna Brampton (cello), Jeff Holl (acoustic/electric guitars, keyboards and percussion), Jamie Kauffmann (drums), Tony Marryat (bass) and Mike Weterings (vocals and acoustic guitars). Much of the time, the arrangements work well, but at times they can be overpowering.

The opening track, "Daybreak," is one such track. It begins with a driving rock beat and strong percussion. Weterings's vocals are warm and pleasant, but by the time the arrangement reaches its peak, it is overwhelming his voice. It's a good arrangement which the cello enhances and it's a good song, but the balance needs to be better. The vocals fare better on the next track, "Here's Looking at You," where the narrator of the song is looking at the end of a bad relationship through his rear view mirror. Here the accompaniment complements the vocals and underscores the exuberance -- and relief -- in Weterings's voice.

Any woman who wants to know what men want would do well to pay attention to the next track, "Someone I Can Lean On," where the guy's way of leaning on someone is having the space to go work things out. The bright bouncy pop sound has substance and suit the vocals well. "Let You Go (Seasons Pass)" uses the cello and percussion to good effect, and the lyrics and vocals are heartfelt with authentic emotional expression. The accompaniment overwhelms the vocals again in "Satisfy You," which doesn't mesh as well as other songs and is overall less satisfying.

The bright, fresh sound returns in "You Give Me," a terrific exuberant love song. The following two tracks, "Shameless" and "Had to Come Back," are darker in tone and a bit muddy in execution. It seems that Weterings is more skilled at brighter sounds and more positive subjects. Even a sad song such as "Let You Go" is about taking a mature, positive step and is much more successful overall.

"Dance" is lots of just plain fun, featuring a great rolling rhythm and a lightly Latin beat that appeals right down to fingers and toes. The final track, the anthem-like "Too Late," is introspective but not angst-ridden, with good lyrics and a fine melody that brings the CD to a solid and resolved close.

The accompaniment arrangements are complex, tight and well-performed, but greater balance is needed so that the background complements rather than drowns the vocals. Weterings would also do well to focus on more positive, affirming songs and leave the angst behind; anguish does not necessarily equal depth and an upbeat song isn't necessarily fluff. Aluminum Sea is evidence that the Mike Weterings Band is a band with promise which I hope will be fulfilled.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]