Last fall, Portland, Maine Indie Rock trio Weakened Friends released “Hate Mail,” a single featuring guest guitarist J. Mascis. Nabbing the legendary Dinosaur Jr. frontman for a scorching cameo is a pretty decent get for a band that’s barely been around three years. “Hate Mail” is a great platform for Mascis’ guitar voodoo, since Weakened Friends’ sonic profile isn’t too far off the beam from Dinosaur Jr.’s. Guitarist Sonia Sturino plays with a visceral passion for melodic noise and controlled chaos similar to what Mascis has perfected over the years, while the rhythm section of bassist Annie Hoffman and drummer Cam Jones possesses the slippery bedrock quality that Mascis seems to prefer. The point of departure comes through the mic, as Sturino sings with the unhinged intensity of Björk, absent the sometimes impenetrable artifice, and with plenty of Pop/Punk fury in its place.
Weakened Friends coalesced in 2015 after Sturino moved to Portland from Toronto and began writing for her band Box Tiger, which was in the midst of mixing a new album. Sturino quickly realized that she had a pile of material that didn’t fit Box Tiger’s approach and so she presented the songs to Jones, her roommate and Box Tiger bandmate, to see if he’d be interested in fleshing them out. Sturino met Hoffman when Box Tiger and Hoffman’s band, The Field Effect, played a show together, and a mutual friend encouraged Sturino to contact Hoffman about joining the new project. Hoffman was ecstatic about the offer; their shared bill was The Field Effect’s last show before a hiatus, and Hoffman was actually considering a band-less life going forward.
In short order, the trio worked up Sturino’s songs, released the EP Gloomy Tunes and started doing shows with the likes of Juliana Hatfield, Silversun Pickups and Beach Slang. In 2016, the trio dropped the Crushed EP to equally enthusiastic reviews. “Hate Mail” and a celebrated South By Southwest appearance last year exponentially increased interest in Weakened Friends.
We can only hope that the big news of 2018 will be the release of Weakened Friends’ first full-length album and that “Hate Mail” was just a small glimpse into its greatness.