Or, the Whale

Or, the Whale

Or, the Whale

Or, the Whale

Seany Records

San Francisco’s Or, the Whale is back with some good ol’ straight-up alt-country on their self-titled second album, but the band finds itself in a bit of a rut.

The album starts almost plodding with the slow, but harmonious “No Love Blues.” It stays at a snail’s pace for “Datura” before kicking into the darker mid-empo “Rusty Gold.”

The things that hold the entire album together and keeps it from becoming mundane are the harmonies. “Never Coming Out” is a great low-key song about desperation with the chorus “I have always lived in this house and I’m never coming out.” Just when you think the song is going to linger, it explodes into the a cappella line, “Like wildfire, they found right away, that I’m never coming out.” Then, just as fast as it explodes, it simmers back to the almost hushed country whisper that the song began.

While four of the seven members have vocal leads at some point on the album, pianist Julie Ann Thomasson and guitarist Alex Robins make more of their turns. Thomasson especially commands the listener on “Terrible Pain,” while Robins takes the gospel-blues-rock “Black Rabbit,” and the pounding rhythm combined with the harmonies of Thomasson and Lindsay Garfield make this track the best on the album.

Or, the Whale’s self-titled second album sounds a little more forced than their brilliant debut. Their debut was very listenable from beginning to end, while this album I find easier to skip over tracks that sound like they were just tacked on to fill space. While this may be a sophomore slump of sorts for the septet, the band is immensely talented and is still just getting going. They will get better and once they do, you will be hearing them more on the radio.

Or The Whale: www.orthewhale.com

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