Greg Hughes’ Among Giants songwriting vehicle took him from a folk-punk solo act to a full-distortion punk outfit pretty rapidly. Since Among Giants now doesn’t function as a folk-punk outfit, he took things back to his roots with a new album and a new name. The diverse acoustic-based songwriting of Weeds In Your Garden by Bobby’s Oar will satisfy folk-punk purists and adventurous folk fans.
The standout cut here is opener “In the Woods,” which marries a rapid-fire folk-punk strumming pattern to a meandering vocal line that’s heavy on pathos and melody. Hughes grows the song from that intimate opening to a blown-out full-band chorus that includes horns and a shout-it-out punk choir. I couldn’t avoid humming the “whoah-oh” line for days. Hughes’ lyrics have always been deeply introspective without getting cloying, and he fits a fresh set of similar concerns to the work here: The mid-tempo folk explosion of “I Find Comfort” details the difficulties of moving cross-country; the back-porch picking of “That’s Just Like, Your Opinion, Man” is a exposition of optimistic existentialism (which has philosophical forebears that don’t include Camus). At the other end of the spectrum, Hughes screams his voice ragged on the aggressive crumbling-relationship tableau “Heart.”
Thoughful lyrics, heart-on-sleeve narratives, sonic rage, and melodic charm are the recombinant building blocks of Weeds in Your Garden–“It’s a Vice” is a lovely acoustic indie-pop song that Hughes screams over most of. If you’re into Andrew Jackson Jihad, Attica! Attica!, or Nana Grizol, you’ll love Bobby’s Oar.