Thursday, May 31, 2012

Album: Risk Whalen - Whaler's Ink

Risk Walen Waler's Ink

A lo-fi charmer from Risk Walen will be here tomorrow, June 1st. Titled Whaler's Ink, the album is a dozen tracks cut on a farm in Efland, NC with a barn serving as the control room and the reverb found in an empty grain silo as the only effects processing. With feelings as calm and serene as the album's rustic backdrop summarizing my listen, the purpose for such a stripped down production became apparent; Katharine Whalen's uniquely powerful voice commands its own attention. A studio with compressors, limiters, lasers, and equalizers would be a distraction.

Softly raspen and delicately enchanting, Whalen remains gently aloft in a breeze of lullabies throughout the majority of the album. Acoustic guitar and cautious percussion flow just out of reach but no less aware of their role, and give the vocals a stream to drift upon. Stand out tracks are "Rabbit King" which is first to introduce Whalen's unique vocal and serves as vanguard for the aesthetic of the recording. And, "Bend Me a Line" which is a heart-breakingly conscious image of the quiet tragedy that scorned love can leave in its wake.

The album rounds itself out with a few folk stompers chanted in Brian Risk's baritone, and an equal number of instrumentals whose softly strummed melodies may still be ghosting around the limestone bricks of the silo where they were recorded. --Carrboro Ninja

listen to: "Bend Me a Line"

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Album: The Pinkerton Raid - The Pinkerton Raid


The Pinkerton Raid's new self-titled album is a fused offering of modern soft pop indie and the gritty blues rock that was pop circa 1970 on the British underground scene. With hands in pockets and eyes sullenly fixed on the ground to its feet, The Pinkerton Raid is guided along its path by the echoes of electric guitar, rhythms of a delightful piano, and a chorus of harmonies wisping through the tree tops above. Leaving from the darkened urgency of opener "Santa Rosa", feeling its way through the psychedelic space of the midland tracks, and arriving at the heart felt sensitivity of the last song, "Lullaby, Butterfly"...The Pinkerton Raid knows when to walk and when to run. Exercising the arrangements of a music store's worth of instrumentation, these songs make their way with a lope and a trot, then a stop and a charge.

Most of the album is notably solemn and range from pure ballad (e.g. "Could You Wait") to the downright Floyd-ish "Piano Queen"...but one is an escape artist. "Life of the Party" unbinds itself from the album's somber reflective tone to reveal depth in the form of a magically fun pop tune. "Life of the Party" recounts why we love the weekend with a dancey story of a dinner party crowded with those joyously half inebriated and delightfully drinking the rest of the way there. As it was also my personal favorite of the collection, I was inspired to nearly having the next such party of my own planned and anticipated by the song's 4:00 mark. On an album with so much variety it was refreshing yet not surprising that the stand-out track was molecularly different than the rest, but take not my word for it...stream the album and see which takes you the furthest; stream it here

The Pinkerton Raid releases The Pinkerton Raid this Saturday May 26th with a performance at The Casgah in Durham with sweet folky pop sweet Birds and Arrows, and softly seductive Ashville pop act Stephaniesid. --Carrboro Ninja