Monday, October 8, 2012

Enjoy The Company With The Whigs

The Whigs are a hard-working power trio from Athens, Georgia, who have been together for more than a decade, mostly on the road honing their craft as a live band. In 2006, Rolling Stone magazine named them one of its “10 Artists To Watch.” The attention led to plenty of performances on late night television (Leno, Kimmel, Letterman), but the Whigs kept on pushing for something different.

The self-described “normal rock” band has just released their fourth studio album, Enjoy the Company. It’s polished with a bit of an edge, marking a noticeable shift from their first three albums: In The Dark (2010), Mission Control (2008), and Give ‘Em All A Big Fat Lip (2006). All of them were released on Dave Matthews’s ATO Records.

Enjoy the Company switches labels and steps in a new direction.

For Enjoy the Company, the band switched to New West Records and this change marks a new direction. Singer/guitarist Parker Gispert, drummer Julian Dorio and bassist Tim Deaux all said they didn’t want to make an album that was lo-fi or overly glossy and slick.

To help them find their way, the band headed north to fabled Woodstock, New York, for a session inside the equally revered Dreamland studio. It was there they could lay the tracks down without distractions.

Producer John Agnello (Drive By Truckers, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr.) was enlisted to help the band craft an album full of road-tested tunes. Most of them are straightforward and more melodic. The result is an album that is, while not as nuanced as their previous work, more satisfying on every level.

The clip is rarity when the band was out audience testing songs in 2011. It sounds even richer on the album while retaining the real live-jam 8-plus minute feel that brought it all together. It also kicks off the album as one of the strongest tunes.

Gispert sings “Wind me up, wind me up” as the song is punctuated by soulful horns. And in breaking down the composition, the song has the potential to rank as one of the band’s best songs of all time.

Gospel is a guitar-heavy song with an upbeat melody. Here, Gispert shows he is smart enough to deliver his vocals without taking it over the top. It provides a great contrast to some of the Whigs' past work, which is better represented in songs like Rock And Roll Forever. It makes sense that they would pay homage to rock and roll heroes who had come before them.

Even the soft and gentle Thank You works on this album. As an acoustic number, it gives Gispert’s voice a chance to quietly shine. But that is not to say that the entire album is quiet or restrained. Waiting is a catchy rocker that moves along with a guitar-driven crispness.

In Summer Heat, Deaux’s bass provides a solid foundation with a fun and memorable chorus that will eventually become a crowd staple. Likewise, Tiny Treasures has an alt country feel that showcases the band’s diversity and Dorio’s solid, textured drumming.

"I hope that we’re always changing in the sense that we’re always keeping our ears open to what’s happening around us ... responding to the sounds we hear walking around Athens or what’s on the radio or what’s in the back of the bins in the record store," Gispert told ATO Records after the release of In The Dark as a foreshadow of things to come. "But the core of this band is always going to be a rock band. When we hit the stage, we are who we are."

Enjoy The Company With The Whigs At 4.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

The Whigs are the kind of band that doesn’t like anything fancy. They even set up their own equipment before each gig, which is just another reason to like them.

Enjoy the Company by the Whigs can be downloaded from iTunes. You can also download Enjoy the Company from Amazon or find it on vinyl from Barnes & Noble. If you have a chance, pick up tickets to see them live. They are currently on tour in the U.S. and Canada.
blog comments powered by Disqus