For whatever reason, I’ve had good luck finding quality bands that also have the word whale in their name. Exhibit A: Noah and the Whale. Exhibit B: Freelance Whales. Exhibit C: Or, The Whale (more on them in a bit).
And then there is Exhibit D: Said The Whale, and its album Islands Disappear, the first on Hidden Pony Records. What’s great about Said The Whale is that they venture into different styles — lazy folk, twee-ish pop, fuzzy guitar rock to name a few — and do so exceptionally.
I hear elements of several bands on Islands Disappear that I have enjoyed throughout the years. I heard a bit of Elbow’s “One Day Like This,” some of The Weakerthans’ “One Great City!” and some of The New Pornographers’ “All For Swinging You Around.” There’s a lovely, melodic, west-coast vibe to a good portion of the songs here, too.
What the listener gets from STW is a nice collection of musical twists and turns that all revolve around quality songcraft. Band co-founders and co-Canadians Ben Worcester and Tyler Bancroft share vocal duties, and keyboardist Jaycelyn Brown lends backing vocals on a few tracks.
I’ll try to offer up four songs here that adequately display the bands broad talents.
“Emerald Lake, AB” – Some well-crafted alt-rock here. Particularly like the drums in this song, and when the horns and keyboards come in to accompany the rhythm guitar ever-so-lightly, it’s a great buildup to the end of the song. “What a fine life we are living” indeed.
“Camillo (The Magician)” – This is the fuzzy guitar rock I was talking about. This song is so much fun, and it’s the first single from the album.
“Goodnight Moon” – This sounds a little like The Boy Least Likely To’s twee-pop at times, complete with chimes and the lightly strummed guitar. The chanting of “Got so much love!” at the end of the song is invigorating.
“False Creek Change” – A little bit of folky storytelling and strumming. My only complaint is that the song isn’t longer.
These songs deserve a home. Would you deny them a place in your music collection? Would you!?
“Datura” By Or, The Whale (From Or, The Whale, out now, self-released) – A little alt-country flavor from another good “whale” band.
“Ancient Lover” By Tigercity (From Ancient Lover, out now, self-released) – I keep thinking that this band sounds like what would happen if Matt Pond of Matt Pond PA and 1985 had a musical baby. I first heard Tigercity on their Pretend Not To Love EP whilst working in college radio. Their sound has matured into a fun, funky and dramatic 80’s sound. This album is worth checking out for sure.
“Albert” By Indianola (From Two Day, out now on Trailer Fire Records) – Full disclosure: Both members of this band — John Atzberger and Pat Bourland — are friends of mine from high school. Doesn’t change the fact that I really like this album and this song rocks. Mandolin and picked guitar are the weapons of choice here, if my ear is correct. Learn more about John, Pat and Trailer Fire Records here. And listen to this song.
“Lowiza” By The Lovely Feathers (From Fantasy of the Lot, out now on Love Your Diary Records) – A catchy song about emotional and physical impotence? Yes, that’s what this is. This is another band that I found in college and am happy to report is still around. Their sound is quite quirky but also endearing. Check it out. Warning: It’s loud.
“Swim” By Surfer Blood (From Astrocoast, out January 19 on Kanine Records) – Yet another awesome, loud, unique rock song. I’m really liking these guys.