Many rock bands have taken the path of bringing their heavier hitting tunes to the masses by mellowing them with a more acoustic sound or reinventing them with an orchestral slant. Think Nirvana’s Unplugged in New York, Alkaline Trio’s Damnesia, or Metallica’s S&M. For dedicated fans, this can be hit or miss, but it can also pay off by garnering new followers who may flock to reimagined songs.
Last month, Belarus-based Weesp, known more for an alternative/hard rock sound, released Crystal Clean Waters, a stripped-down, acoustic version primarily covering tracks from their 2018 album, Black Sails. The newest record also features one song each from their 2011 EP This Will Destroy Us and 2015’s The Void. While Waters is an acoustic studio album, it does include two live cuts from their most recent album.
The thing that stands out when listening to Waters is the crisp, honest vocals of singer Lex Falco. The acoustic versions give him the opportunity to shine and show his vocal range while letting Mike, Mi, Stak, and Gul demonstrate the purity of their musical skills. The album’s more notable songs are “Red Neon Glow,” “Beware the Blind Spots,” and “Monsters,” which are, in my opinion, more engaging than the heavier originals.
With “Red Neon Glow,” the acoustic version better captures the band’s lyrical message of balancing good and evil than its heavier counterpart. “Beware the Blind Spots” lets you truly hear Mike and Mi’s cooperative guitar work that the original sometimes loses. Throughout “Monsters,” you get the opening acoustic vibe of System of a Down’s “Chop Suey,” and again, some talented guitar work from Mike. The two live cuts, “After Us” and “Monsters,” are a bonus for fans of Weesp.
When it comes to Crystal Clean Waters, I found myself going back and forth between the acoustics and originals, liking one or the other, and in some cases, both. You can tell Weesp put great effort into reimagining their songs. Whatever your style preference, if you’re into bands like Chevelle, Shinedown, Adelitas Way, and All That Remains, you’ll appreciate Weesp, including their new acoustic tracks. I’d also recommend checking out their live performances on YouTube, which showcases the energy you might not always hear in a recording.