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Or, the Whale 

Light Poles and Pines (Seany Records)

Wednesday, Jan 14 2009
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Light Poles and Pines isn't the freshest bread in the bakery. Or, the Whale self-released the album in 2007. A year later, the local septet signed to Seany Records, but instead of inaugurating its relationship with a disc of new jams, all parties involved opted to reissue material that is at least two years old. This, of course, means longtime fans are reading yesterday's papers. From the group's point of view, Light Poles and Pines has a chance to win significantly more converts, as there now exists a bigger audience for its brand of sprightly Americana.

The emergence of Deer Tick, Langhorne Slim, the Felice Brothers, and others of the Whale's ilk has created a minor buzz for indie artists who are inspired by Dylan-fried country-folk and vintage West Coast pop. This is what Or, the Whale is all about, though the band goes for more of a faux-hillbilly boogie vibe than most of its peers. Tunes like "Gonna Have To" and "Threads" are built from tightly woven male-female harmonies and a giddy-up-and-go rhythm section buttressed with banjo and pedal steel. The former song, played by Tim Marcus, steals the show outright. He does a credible job replicating the ghostly cries of Jerry Garcia's work with the New Riders, and the dude can bust some classic honky-tonk runs as well. Without him, Or, the Whale would sound a tad too suburban for my tastes.

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Justin F. Farrar

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