February 5, 2009

Or, The Whale - Light Poles and Pines (2007/2009)

It is well documented that I appreciate things like pedal (slide) guitar, folk-country influences, and the contrast between raspy, strained male vocals and harmonic, less abrasive female vocals. Or, The Whale brings all of the aforementioned together, with a particular emphasis on the well-placed pedal guitar. This San Francisco based group is often paired with The Devil Makes Three out of Santa Cruz, but while Devil Makes Three takes a drumless three person ragtime-punkish approach (which is excellent), Or, The Whale fills out their indie folk-country sound with seven musicians and a multitude of vocalists. I understand that they are one hell of a live tandem, and both are on my must see list.

Or, The Whale's music is not quite as quirky as their name. "Call and Response" is the obvious standout on Light Poles and Pines, originally released in 2007, and certainly the most accessible for people who are not particularly interested in "that country sound." An "I listen to everything except country" attitude should not deter you from appreciating this cut, because its hooks are universal and undeniable. Pedal guitar, a sing-along chorus, and conspicuous enthusiasm all come together over toe-tapping snare and symbols, which makes for a track that has a similar feeling to (not duplicates) a quickcrit favorite: "I Woke Up Today" by Port O'Brien. In contrast, songs like "Rope Don't Break" and "Threads" have a down-home, back-porch kinda feel that permeate with country influence and are also fantastic.

Light Poles and Pines may not be for everyone; however, the music and lyrics are excellent and provide a West Coast take on the typically Sounthern sounds.

Call and Response - Or, the Whale - Or, the Whale


awmercy said...

Speaking of Port O'Brien, Stereogum posted a new song of theirs, "Is This Really What It's Come To?"