Remember the first time you heard Jane’s Addiction and it was weird and a bit menacing but still kind of fun and light? This is before Perry became a model for douche-y brands that market to douche-y guys like Navarro. There was something so cool about that band that you couldn’t really put your finger on. Something unique and interesting and…baffling.
Black Whales don’t sound like Jane’s Addiction (except occasional vocal inflections) but I am getting some nostalgic feelings of those first encounters with Jane’s that made me seek out more. The Seattle quintet treads delicately on enough musical styles that none really define the band. These guys are children of mix tapes, that’s clear. But rather than mimicking the styles of their heroes they do what any band worth a second listen does: they eke out their own sound from those colliding influences. That’s not to say this is some mish mash of sonic crumbs. In fact, it’s a bit spare—in a good way. Their EP Origins is stripped down to the elements: slamming drums and interesting beats; quirky, catchy guitar lines (not riffs, but melodic lines); anchored bass; and arresting vocals. *Yes, I just typed “arresting” in describing vocals.
Despite the spare production, Origins is not some minor undertaking. As lead vocalist/guitarist Alex Robert explains,”No memories, no regrets, no heartbreak, no blood. The album is meant to sound wide-eyed and optimistic but with lots of ghosts and memories still hanging around. I guess that’s as close as it gets to thematic.”