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Whitney make casually melancholic music that combines the wounded drawl of Townes Van Zandt, the rambunctious energy of Jim Ford, the stoned affability of Bobby Charles, the American otherworldliness of The Band, and the slack groove of early Pavement. Their debut, 'Light Upon the Lake' on Secretly Canadian, and it marks the culmination of a short, but incredibly intense, creative period for the band. Formed from the core of guitarist Max Kakacek and singing drummer Julien Ehrlich, to say that Whitney is more than the sum of its parts would be a criminal understatement. The band itself is something bigger, something visionary, something neither of them could have accomplished alone. Ehrlich had been a member of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, but left to play drums for the Smith Westerns, where he met guitarist Kakacek. That group burned brightly but briefly, disbanding in 2014 and leaving its members adrift. Brief solo careers and side-projects abounded, but nothing clicked. Making everything seem all the more fraught: both of them were going through especially painful breakups almost simultaneously, the kind that inspire a million songs, and they emerged emotionally bruised and lonelier than ever. These ten songs on 'Light Upon the Lake' sound like they could have been written at any time in the last fifty years. Ehrlich and Kakacek emerge as imaginative and insightful songwriting partners, impressive in their scope and restraint as they mold classic rock lyricism into new and personal shapes without sound revivalist or retro. Whitney arrive as a fully formed gang of outsiders, their album rich in the musical history of the classic bands of the 60s and 70s who, like Whitney, were greater than the sum of their parts.
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