The cover of Aaron Freeman’s latest LP makes a clear statement. The title (as well as the moniker of his new band) is simply Freeman, but here, a period separates his last name into “free” and “man.” Two years on from the dissolution of Ween, the band that brought him fame, the artist formerly known as Gene Ween wants to be his own man.
Ween fizzled in 2012, and since then, Freeman has gotten sober and released a covers record devoted to semi-obscure songwriter-poet Rod McKuen. And while his partnership with Mickey Melchiondo—the Dean to Freeman’s Gene—has hit a wall, Freeman’s new effort plays like a continuation of Ween. Album opener “Covert Discretion” sets a brave yet familiarly unhinged tone, with Freeman singing: “Fuck you all, I got a reason to live / And I’m never gonna die.”
Freeman boasts hallmarks of Ween’s signature style: strange, silly psychedelia. Dark humor threads throughout rock blitzes and ballads—the record’s most immediate connection being to 2003’s Quebec, Ween’s underrated penultimate LP.
Freeman has sparked the torch left dark in Ween’s absence, at least as far as the studio goes. But when the group hits town this week, there will be some salivating fans used to epic performances. Freeman might not be totally free, just yet.—Colin St. John