WHEN I SAY LOUISVILLE, YOU SAY… electro-folk-pop? Damn right, electro-folk-pop. What did you think I was gonna say? “Bats?” (Thank god Wikipedia is back so I could find the name of Louisville’s AAA baseball team. By the way, SOPA and PIPA suck.) Whistle Peak does indeed hail from the bluegrass state (actually Kentucky is a commonwealth, just like my good Ol’ Dominion, but we’re cool. Massachusetts and Pennsylvania won’t say anything either), but they set their sights on a style much less traditional than bluegrass when they made Half Asleep Upon Echo Falls, their sophomore album, which is slated for a Valentine’s Day release. Before we go any further, I do know that their state… [AHEM] commonwealth is nicknamed after an actual type of grass, not the string-pickin’ genre, but give me a break here. I haven’t yet written about many bands from Kentucky — My Morning Jacket being one notable exception — and I’m really excited about Whistle Peak, a group that offers an exceptional balance of sounding different and cohesive at the same time. Half Asleep is one of those rare invitations to step into a different world, one that feels like it has its own unique landscape, climate and culture. The instrumentation and execution are distinctive (the prominence of the ukulele certainly stands out), and while the percussion sounds vary from track to track along with a diverse set of texture-massaging samples, these elements never feel detached or unrelated. Half Asleep is so pleasing to enjoy from start to finish in part because it offers variety within a specific imaginary space, giving the listener a comprehensive tour of this uncanny world. And to my ears, it sounds like Half Asleep‘s slightly off-kilter universe is weighed down by an ever so slightly inflated gravitational pull, as if its inhabitants enjoy all the joys and excitement that us Earth humans do, just on a slightly muted basis. Or maybe this alternate race of humanoids simply evolved to be shorter and squatter than we did. Either way, the filtered vocals and descending melodies have a weight that, even in the album’s most freewheeling moments, keeps the mood grounded. And I love it. If that extra gravity keeps me on this strange and distant planet a little while longer, that’s A-OK with me. Preview “Wings Won’t Behave” below to see what I mean and pre-order Half Asleep Upon Echo Falls here.
Whistle Peak — “Wings Won’t Behave“