BREVIEW: Whitney @ Hare & Hounds, 23.08

Whitney @ Hare & Hounds 23/08/16

Words by Graeme Elliott

For a band which created such laid back music, Whitney are hard working bunch – touring heavily in support of their debut album Light Upon the Lake. The hard work is definitely paying off though as Hare & Hounds is packed; there is palpable excitement in the room as the audience waits for the band to enter. whitneylightuponthelakealbumart

Front man and drummer, Julien Ehrlich, is the first one to wander on stage, his baggy shirt tucked into his grey sweat pants and towel draped around his neck; gym chic. He introduces their set by telling us they will be shaking up the order this evening; a way to liven things up on tour, no doubt, although their debut album’s title track, ‘Light Upon the Lake’, is an oddly gentle choice of opening. It almost works too, and the band injects more energy into it as a live version – but it still feels a little lost and timid thrust out up front.

Things soon pick up pace, and the subsequent combo of ‘Polly’ and ‘Red Moon’ prove the highlights of the night. For ‘Polly’ the band provides a grand sweeping backing to the Ehrlich’s falsetto, before the song gives way to its soulful trumpet outro. And live the swing of ‘Red Moon’ is emphasized – with Max Kakacek’s lead guitar and Will Miller’s trumpet trading melodies, playing off each other. It’s only a shame that it ends too soon; it feels like Whitney could have pushed this gentlemanly dual between their two musicians a bit more.

This is Tmrw - logo transAs we move towards the second half, the set sags a little. A passable cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Tonight I’ll be Staying Here With You’ doesn’t help, but the final combo of ‘The Falls’ and ‘No Women’ close out the set on a high; the band pausing to soak up the applause and say goodnight before launching into the final brief outro of ‘No Woman’.

This brings me to a concern I have with Whitney; their songs are skillfully played and arranged, but nothing fully grabs hold of you as you expect it should. ‘No Women’ being a typical example; a fine song, but it never seems to build to the heights it threatens to and ends too suddenly.

Too many times Whitney’s songs seem to stop short and they can seem a little flat because of it. Unarguably a hard working band, filling venues from Chicago to Birmingham, but perhaps Whitney could push themselves a little more – to give their songs more space to build on record, and to improvise with live. This could do a lot more to liven up their gigs than rearranging the set list. 

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BPREVIEW: Whitney @ Hare & Hounds, 23.08

Whitney @ Hare & Hounds 23/08/16

Words by Graeme Elliott

On the 23rd August the Hare & Hounds plays host to Whitney. The laid back seven-piece from Chicago are currently touring the UK backed by a surge of industry buzz, with their debut album – Light Upon the Lake, eliciting acclaim across the music press.Birmingham Preview

Advance tickets for the gig, presented by the ever busy This is Tmrw, will set you back £10 plus booking fee – for further information & online ticket sales click here. Doors open at 7.30pm, with Birmingham’s own Swampmeat Family Band playing in support.

Whitney were formed by guitarist Max Kakacek and singer/drummer Julien Ehrlich following the demise of their previous band Smith Westerns, whose music has a timeless quality to it; a mellow Americana swathed in nostalgia.

The name Whitney was devised as the name of fictional singer songwriter, a cipher to channel their song writing through. However the personal nature of Whitney’s music belies this fact; they are not shy in baring more than their souls either, as the band’s Instagram pictures also show. But perhaps taking a more detached attitude towards the song writing process has allowed them to explore this side of themselves more readily within their music.

Light Upon the Lake / By WhitneyWhitey’s songs themselves manage to make complex arrangements sound clean, warm and effortless; their studio recordings layering strings and brass with falsetto vocals and melodic, but understated, lead guitar work. Whitney trade the hazy reverb of Smith Westerns for a more direct, but no less atmospheric, sound.

Although despite the gentle nature of Whitney’s music, their performance promises to be a lively proposition, with Julian Ehrlich claiming we bend the instrumentals, there’s more energy, some stage banter”.

And with Whitney numbering seven, as such a high head count crams itself onto one stage this isn’t surprising. As someone who finds their debut album a little too relaxed at times it will be interesting to see how their songs transform in a live setting.

To get a taste of what to expect check out their video for ‘No Woman’, the lead single from Whitney’s debut album – Light Upon the Lake.

‘No Woman’ by Whitney

Whitney play at the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath) on Tues 23rd August, with support from Swampmeat Family Band – as presented by This Is Tmrw. For direct gig info & online tickets sales, click here.

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