I first got hip to Sonia Sturino a few years back, when I heard her band, The Box Tiger, and, in particular, the dazzling song “Set Fire To Your Friends.”
Sturino started the band in 2009 with bassist Ben Tran, drummer Marcus Cipparone and guitarist Jordan Stowell. At the time, everyone but Stowell lived in Toronto. In 2013, The Box Tiger released “Set Fire,” one of my favorite records of that year with Sturino’s siren-like vocals and the album’s searing alternative rock sensibilities.
Fast forward to now. The Box Tiger is no longer and Sturino’s new band is Weakened Friends, based in Portland. They’re the trio of Sturino (vocals/guitar), Annie Hoffman (bass/backing vocals) and Cam Jones (drums).
Several months ago, I was at Portland House of Music for a Bissell Brothers event with another local band I’m fixated on called OHX. I faded before OHX came on, but I was there to catch Weakened Friends’ set and was floored by it.
They’re absolutely electrifying, and I frankly couldn’t get enough. Sturino’s got a siren-like voice and whales on her guitar with aplomb. Hoffman’s backing vocals are fantastic, as is her bass, and Jones is a masterful rock drummer.
So as you can imagine, I was pleased as punch to get wind of their new EP, “Crushed.” The six songs clock in just under 19 minutes and every song completely rocks. This is actually their second EP; the first one, “Gloomy Tunes,” dropped last year, and the four songs on it are also spectacular.
When I listen to Weakened Friends, I’m gripped by a desire to, I don’t know, race around the streets of Portland on roller skates equipped with jet packs, waving to everyone with the band blasting in my ears.
Take “95,” for example. That song owned me within one nanosecond. It was like getting electrocuted.
Take a listen and rock out with me!
“I don’t want a war, I just want a victory/I’m so alone, won’t somebody just talk to me?” sings Sturino. I could listen to just this song and be satisfied.
Next up, however, on “Crushed” is “She’s So Cool.” It’s a sarcastic jab of a song with a chorus of “Stay away, stay, stay away from, she’s so, so cool,” and Sturino shows off her mad electric guitar skills. Again, fire up the jet-fueled roller skates and set me loose. The other four songs on “Crushed” follow along the same blazing lines.
Weakened Friends is having its EP release show at the Bissell Brothers Brewery Tap Room in its new digs at Thompson’s Point. Whale Oil will also be playing and Spencer Albee will serve as DJ for the night, spinning tunes between sets.
Bring all your money because Weakened Friends will have “Crushed” on CD and vinyl. Not to mention the fact that you’ll be spending the evening drinking the magical brews of Bissell.
The brewery will be converted into a music venue for this special show, and I get the sense that this is one of those shows that will be talked about long after it’s over. I also have more than a sneaking suspicion that Weakened Friends will be busting out all over the Northeast and beyond in the coming weeks and months.
WHEN & WHERE: 8 p.m. Friday. Bissell Brothers Tap Room, 4 Thompson’s Point, Portland TICKETS & INFO: $10 in advance, $12 at the door. eventbrite.com