Whitney’s Light Upon the Lake came out last Friday, but I completely missed it until earlier this week. Now that I’ve found it, though, I keep listening again … and again … and again …
Whitney consists of former Smith Westerns guitarist Max Kakacek and former Unknown Mortal Orchestra drummer Julien Ehrlich. They play straightforward rock and roll that sounds like a mix between modern indie music and older groups like The Velvet Underground or The Band.
The Band comparison is due largely to Ehrlich’s drumming. It’s not that he sounds like Levon Helm necessarily, but he does seem to be playing with Helm’s presence and attitude. He’s not back there just keeping the beat; he’s flat-out commanding the music like a conductor.
“Dave’s Song” might just be my favorite song on the record. Imagine It Still Moves-era My Morning Jacket, but the band plays in your living room instead of a giant grain silo. I’m not exaggerating when I say I listened to it four times in a row the first time I heard it. Like most of the other songs on Light Upon the Lake, “Dave’s Song” is that quick 2-3 minute range, and I found myself wishing the band had jammed for at least another minute or two.
Album opener “No Woman” is another great track. Though it opens with a quick introduction from a keyboard, it revolves mostly around a quiet acoustic guitar and Ehrlich’s fantastic vocals. By the end, though, a second guitar has shown up and it plays side by side with a small horn section, building and building until the dramatic end. “No Woman” was an early single from the album, and it’s easy to tell why.
Other highlights include “Red Moon,” an upbeat instrumental that sounds like a trumpet, a drum kit, and a piano having a playful argument, and the hopeful album closer “Follow.” I pray your troubled mind remembers, Ehrlich sings on “Follow.” When it’s coming to an end/ At least the rain won’t come again.
And just like that, just 30 minutes after it started, the album is through. And you start all over again at the beginning, because what else are you going to do? Listen to something else? Not today, friends. We’re cranking Light Upon the Lake until dawn.
Listen to the full thing below via Spotify …