Somewhere between something and the other

So much music I get sent, and I get sent a lot, tends to be bland and cloned. It’s as if there’s a factory/laboratory somewhere in a nameless city/town/village (delete as applicable) where the “magic formula” that made Busted “successful” is applied to fifteen year olds to turn them into avatars of that inane indie guitar thang. The guitars all sound the same. the vocals all sound the same. the chords are inevitably major and all predictable. I guess there is a human capacity for some to mimic/imitate what they like and try and replicate it in the hope of some sort of career coming out of it. Some have the mystery element of being able to turn it into something new and interesting. Others are merely copyists and either pass it off as new or end up in tribute bands. Nothing to get too hung up about I guess but a reason why my radio shows tend to feature stuff, in the most part, that doesn’t sound like anything else, hopefully.

I’ve also been around long enough to realise that some things are cyclical and styles tend to come back so you may not have heard it before but I have.

There’s a lot about Havania Whaal that you will have heard in other bands but they have a knack of altering/subverting/enhancing what has gone before them. Which is why they get my attention.

Their Bandcamp bio says:

Havania Whaal is a three piece noise pop band from Portland, Oregon that formed in a musty basement during the cold winter months of 2012. Drawing inspiration from a large spectrum of artists like Joy Division, Sonic Youth and Cocteau Twins, Havania Whaal’s sound has been described as “stargaze pop” by two girls in Olympia.

They have a big sound for a three piece and in no small part the three voice attack and Noelle Magia’s full poly-rhythmic drum attack make up the major part of the wall of noise which emerges from their new one “Elaborate Minor Crisis”. Paul Billy Sobeich conjurs huge layers of shoegazey/sonic youth noise from his guitar, The trio is expanded on some tracks with effective additional violin tracks provided by Melody Wilbrecht.  Caroline Jackson holds it together with some pungent bass which locks seamlessly with Magia’s rhythms.

This is an album which explores several angles of the same overall sound, which feels like something like some other stuff you will have heard, but also manages to emerge in other directions into areas which you will not have heard before. It’s definitively American, it’s plain daft in places, “The Party” feels like a Thurston Moore laconic ramble through a Bongwater track with a no wave bad attitude nibbling at your ears. Other parts are plain shoe-gazey in a Cocteau’s stylee. Sometimes, on “Chambers” particularly, Sobeich channels Ian Curtis, which is slightly incongruous, and in particular said track heads in an early goth direction  before sounding like it has leaped, kicking and screaming, from the back entries of Northampton in the 1980s. “Spiral Out” is particularly memorable juxtaposing a poppy Liz F verse with a punky Coathangers chorus. Closer “Dylan McKay” is as relentless a closer as any band would sell their souls to Jools Holland for.

All in all it’s a damn good set of tunes. Click on the thing below to see how to get it.

Havania Whaal

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