June 6, 2010

Today's Hotness: Whistle Jacket, Whirl

>> We walk the streets of this city every day and we still don't know where all the bands spring from. Well, we do, of course, but we're constantly surprised when we encounter another one we like. And we certainly like the quirky pop of Whistle Jacket, which has just self-released an eighth full-length called Hello Heart. The collective is fronted by Michael Leyden, who long ago must have grown tired of hearing the adjective quirky attached to his work. But Mr. Leyden's high, nasal vocal delivery -- reminiscent, yes, of Alec Ounsworth -- and jangly, jaunty accompaniment (somewhere between early Small Factory and Hands And Knees) certainly fits the bill. The proceedings are a little too chamber-poppy to be dubbed pure twee, but there is a light-heartedness throughout Hello Heart that makes the record incredibly listenable. The fact that a message board poster two years ago dubbed Whistle Jacket "fascinatingly bad" only adds to the mystique (the message boarder goes on: "Every time [Leyden] opened his mouth it came as a shock. Every single time. It was amazing"). Maybe the band just can't get it together live, maybe it can, but Hello Heart is absolutely worth a listen. The opening track, "Microphone," disturbingly opens with a suggestion of Sting's "All This Time," but fret not, it passes, and once the beat comes in the track ascends into poignant, whimsical indie pop heaven. Amen.

Whistle Jacket's "Microphone"

>> We present your new shoegaze crush, Whirl -- not to be confused with Whorl [gratuitous link to page containing MP3 of one of our favorite songs of all time]. The former act, a Northern California-based sextet, recently self-released its debut EP Distressor, seven tuneful tracks swirling neck-deep in guitar attack with ethereal vocals bobbing along the top of the mix. The demo can be freely downloaded here, and cassettes of same are available directly from the band for USD $2 if you email them at the address listed here. You're wondering where this lines up with the classic shoegaze canon, so we'll tell you: we hear Chapterhouse and Slowdive, and we expect you'll hear the same. Distressor broods and shudders and nods and, as we noted supra, swirls. Nick from Whirl was cool enough to allow us to give away a track, so we submit below for your approval the thrusting standout "Meaningless."

Whirl's "Meaningless"

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