Vancouver's Said The Whale has been on a steady upward trajectory for the past six years, as relentless touring and a prolific string of releases have led to successes including a JUNO Award in 2011 for New Group of the Year and nationally charting singles. In 2013, the tireless five-piece — which includes dual songwriters Tyler Bancroft and Ben Worcester, drummer Spencer Schoening, keyboardist Jaycelyn Brown and bassist Nathan Shaw — will continue to break down doors by releasing its most adventurous and hook-filled batch of songs yet.
The band formed in early 2007 and, following some early EPs, released the debut-full length Howe Sounds/Taking Abalonia in 2008. Said The Whale began to amass a grassroots following through frequent tours, and they scored a string of Canadian radio successes with the albums Islands Disappear (2009) and Little Mountain (2012). These albums earned attention from media outlets like Spin, BBC 6 Music, and Consequence of Sound, and the band was profiled in the nationally televised CBC documentary Winning America. Said The Whale has been nominated for two more JUNO Awards in 2013 for Alternative Album of the Year and Recording Package of the Year (alongside art director Andy Dixon) for Little Mountain.
In keeping with this inexhaustible work ethic, the band is releasing another new collection of songs in the form of the three-song I Love You EP, due out June 4, 2013, on Hidden Pony Records. Once again teaming with longtime studio collaborator Tom Dobrzanski (We Are the City, the Zolas) at his Monarch Studios, the musicians pushed their musical limits and honed their love of fast, punchy pop-rock.
"In the past I've felt pressure to write 'radio' songs, or 'cool' songs or whatever, but this time I went into the writing process with mindset of 'Fuck everything, I'm just going to write what makes me happy,'" says Tyler Bancroft, explaining that the songs were written with a clean slate and no expectations. Ironically, what resulted are some of Said The Whale's catchiest, most accessible songs yet. The singer observes, "It turns out I just like pop music."
This affection for melody shines on I Love You's title track, which is led by a surge of post-punk guitars and careens between spiky choruses and a sunny, sock hop-inspired bridge. Elsewhere, the Worcester-sung "Barbara-Ann" is a buoyant blend of heartfelt romance and '60s-style vocal harmonies, while "Mother" is a synth-heavy new wave banger. These upbeat songs were mixed by Canadian studio guru Gus Van Go and Werner F (Hollerado, the Stills).
"I spend so much time chipping away at my thoughts, trying to get to the core, and right now I'm finding it easy," Worcester says. "I've never felt more creative." He adds that the love-struck mood of "Barbara-Ann" was inspired by a couple who own a hammock store in Vancouver. "It's a proposition to someone special, suggesting that we too can live together like this beautiful pair of chilled out lifers," he reveals.
The EP offers a taste of Said The Whale's fourth album, due out this fall. These latest sessions found Bancroft taking on the role of co-producer, and he guided each song in bold new directions without adherence to genre. "Rather than record in one big session, we used the 'hip-hop method' of doing two or three songs at a time," he reflects. "This let us focus all of our energy on each song without getting overwhelmed."
The new material was penned in a surge of creativity that found Bancroft and Worcester letting their guard down and following their instincts. "My songs on this album are the most vulnerable songs I've ever written," notes Bancroft. "Lyrically it's the most honest I've ever been."
I Love You EP is the sound of a band already on the top of its game breaking free from all expectations and boldly reinventing its identity. And with a new full-length close behind, expect to see more new sides to Said The Whale soon.
"“Camilo the Magician” is fantastic! It’s like you distilled the dancey college rock records of 2004 and mixed them with the catchy indie pop records of 2010. Great mix." - youaintnopicasso.com
"full of youthful energy unseen in this country since Sloan circa Twice Removed." - Eye Weekly
"a meaty serving of guitar-and-organ rock, nodding at times to the sea shanties of Neutral Milk Hotel and at others to the boat-shoe-gazing of Vampire Weekend." - The National Post
"If The Killers and Badly Drawn Boy were to have a love child, it'd be Said The Whale... Hailing from lovely Vancouver, Canada, Said The Whale makes delightfully quirky music. It's infectious!" - Perez Hilton
"There isn't a bad song in this bunch. Said The Whale have gone and made a career-defining album much sooner, I'd say, than anyone expected them to." - chartattack.com
"It’s a record that isn’t just a companion on road trips. It is a necessity to understanding the beauty of the world around us." - popmatters.com
"Vancouver’s Said The Whale have returned with a full-length album that is prepared to swallow you whole. Islands Disappear shines in lyrics and instrumentation, spread across a sea of reflection. A collection of songs that simultaneously move you and get you moving. " - Toronto Music Scene
'The Light Is You' - Sun Rype television commercial (2008)
'B.C. Orienteering', 'Camilo (The Magician)', 'The Light Is You' - Canada Day Parliament Hill Celebration 2009
World of Jenks:
- ‘False Creek Change’ – Episode 2, Season 2 (air date March 11, 2013)
- ‘Emerald Lake, AB’ – Episode 6 (air date Dec 10, 2012)
- ‘Goodnight Moon’ – Episode 5 (air date Dec 10, 2012)
- ‘Heavy Ceiling’ – Episode 20, Season 2 (air date July 10, 2012)
- ‘Lucky’ – Episode 17, Season 2 (air date July 2, 2012)
- ‘2010’ – Episode 16, Season 2 (air date June 29, 2012)
- ‘The Reason’ – Episode 14, Season 2 (air date June 25, 2012)
- ‘Hurricane Ada’ – Episode 14, Season 2 (air date June 25, 2012)
- ‘Lucky’ – Episode 6, Season 2 (air date June 6, 2012)
- ‘2010’ – Episode 5, Season 2 (air date June 5, 2012)
- ‘Gentleman’ – Episode 20 (air date December 22, 2011)
- ‘Gentleman’ – Episode 19 (air date December 7, 2011)
- 'A Cold Night Close To The End' - Episode 10 (air date November 15, 2011)
- 'Emerald Lake, AB' - Episode 6 (air date November 8, 2011)
- 'Emerald Lake, AB' - Episode 4 (air date November 4, 2011)
- ‘Goodnight Moon' and 'B.C. Orienteering' - Episode 3 (air date November 3rd, 2011)
'The Gift of a Black Heart' - Season 2, Episode 17
'Camilo (The Magician)' - Season 2, Episode 10
'Camilo (The Magician)' - Season 2, Episode 9
'The Gift of a Black Heart' - Season 2, Episode 7
'Goodnight Moon' - Season 2, Episode 3
'Goodnight Moon' - Season 1, Episode 9
16 and Pregnant:
'The Gift of a Black Heart' - Season 2, Episode 10
'Goodnight Moon' - Season 2, Episode 4
'Gentleman' - Season 2, Episode 3
If You Really Knew Me:
'Goodnight Moon' - Season 1, Episode 4
'Emerald Lake, AB' - Season 1, Episode 3
Tyler Bancroft - Vocals/Guitar
Ben Worcester - Vocals/Guitar
Spencer Schoening - Drums
Jaycelyn Brown - Keyboard/Vocals
Nathan Shaw - Bass
I Love You EP - Released June 4, 2013 (Hidden Pony/Caroline)
Little Mountain - Released Mar 6, 2012 (Hidden Pony/EMI)
New Brighton EP - Released Nov 8, 2011 (Hidden Pony/EMI)
Bear Bones EP. Released Feb 16, 2010 (Hidden Pony/EMI)
Islands Disappear. Released Oct 13, 2009 (Hidden Pony/EMI)
The Magician EP. Released June 5, 2009. (Hidden Pony/EMI)
Howe Sounds/Taking Abalonia. Released June 3, 2008 (Hidden Pony/EMI)
Little Moutain - USA Today Review
[+ Show ]
Said the Whale, Little Mountain * * * INDIE POP There's no blubber on this third Whale album of...Said the Whale, Little Mountain
* * *
There's no blubber on this third Whale album of savvy, stylistically shape-shifting indie-pop. Acclaimed in Canada, the Vancouver quintet could find new fans here with Mountain's rootsy sound, elastic enough to stretch from dance and rock to brassy cabaret and folk-pop. Lending warmth are blended harmonies and a nuanced use of electronics, distortion and horns. — Edna Gundersen
New Brighton EP review
[+ Show ]
"New Brighton sticks with the rest of Said the Whale's hallmarks – the savvy mix of indie and folk r..."New Brighton sticks with the rest of Said the Whale's hallmarks – the savvy mix of indie and folk rock, soaring harmonies and quirky, observational lyrics... Their songwriting, which was already top-notch, has improved, creating a tight quartet of indie pop gems."
- Ian Gormely, Exclaim.ca
New Brighton EP review
[+ Show ]
"This short album exhibits a multifaceted catchiness that is not fully appreciated on the first list..."This short album exhibits a multifaceted catchiness that is not fully appreciated on the first listen. Containing only four tracks, each song on the New Brighton EP will somehow weave its way into your cerebral cortex, only to randomly burst out at the most inopportune time. Yes, this is the kind of album whose hooks just start blurting out of your mouth inadvertently."
- Nick Senior, decoymusic.com
New Brighton - track review
[+ Show ]
Vancouver’s Said the Whale has always specialized in organic-sounding folk and breezy pop rock, but ...Vancouver’s Said the Whale has always specialized in organic-sounding folk and breezy pop rock, but this latest tune just might be the band’s most intricate yet. Recent EP title track “New Brighton” contains the usual chiming guitars and honeyed melodies we expect from Said the Whale, but there are also some prog-tinged scale-ups and -downs, and one hell of a dissonant chord right around the one-minute mark. Adding to the song’s off-kilter charm is the fact that the lyrics are apparently sung from the perspective of a microbialite in BC’s Pavillion Lake.
Of course, there’s also a killer, harmony-laden chorus hook. Duh.
- Chipped Hip
Pop Candy: Top 5 Canadian Bands
[+ Show ]
I've been a fan of indie music from the Great White North for awhile now. Something about Canadian r...I've been a fan of indie music from the Great White North for awhile now. Something about Canadian rock applies to life in Erie, Pa. Whether it be the punk-folk rock of the Weakerthans (Canada's answer to R.E.M.), the Tragically Hip or everyone's favorite Quebecers, Arcade Fire, I enjoy many of the popular Canadian rock bands. I've also stumbled upon a fair amount of music that maybe several of you haven't heard, so without further ado ...
My Pop Five Canadian Artists You Should Be Listening To:
1. Said the Whale -- Recommended if you like: Eels, The Shins
Favorite lyric: "I got love handles, but I cannot handle love"
2. Hey Rosetta! -- RIYL: The New Pornographers, Arcade Fire --
Sounds like operatic rock. I like to think they have hints of Pearl Jam in their sound.
3. Wintersleep -- RIYL: Local Natives, The National
I saw them open for the Tragically Hip and they had a "sonic, numbing"-type feel to them. Really enjoy listening to them on rainy days.
4. city and colour -- RIYL: Dashboard Confessional, Neil Young , Alexisonfire (although he sounds nothing like them, he is a member of the band)
Favorite song: Against the Grain
5. Andy Shauf -- RIYL: Elliott Smith, Joshua Radin
Favorite lyric: "Smaller details, nervousness tells little secrets, like high school crushes on a blank stare"
Absolutely, hands down a must have is Andy's album Darker Days. I dare you to take a listen and tell me this kid is just barely in his 20's. Great music if you're making a mix tape for a new crush.
Said The Whale: Camilo (The Magician)
[+ Show ]
To tell you the truth, I’ve kind of ignored most of the Whale bands that just entered into popularit...To tell you the truth, I’ve kind of ignored most of the Whale bands that just entered into popularity. After Noah and the Whale caught my ear, I just couldn’t bring myself to listen to Or the Whale or Said the Whale. Well after hearing Said the Whale this weekend I have one thing to say — whoops! “Camilo the Magician” is fantastic! It’s like you distilled the dancey college rock records of 2004 and mixed them with the catchy indie pop records of 2010. Great mix. The best part, though, is this darling video. Kinda reminds me of the “Made for each other” salsa commercials of like a year ago, but it’s not much of a bother. It’s still adorable.
Islands Disappear: 4.5/5
[+ Show ]
Last year's Howe Sounds/Taking Abalonia was a long-player, but it was technically a re-released EP w...Last year's Howe Sounds/Taking Abalonia was a long-player, but it was technically a re-released EP with some extra songs tacked on. That more or less makes Islands Disappear Said The Whale's debut full-length, and it's a clear statement about where the B.C. five-piece are headed.
Islands Disappear's strength lies in its deliberate restraint. We all know Said The Whale have what it takes to make a raucous pop album, but they've instead opted for substance over flare. That chosen direction has them drifting toward New Pornographers territory — crafting songs that start simply, change direction, then gradually mutate into singalong choruses.
They've been compared to The Decemberists in the past, and yes, a few tracks here are also reminiscent of the material on that band's Castaways And Cutouts. The similarities lie mainly in Islands Disappear's nautical and coastal moods and lyrics.
The addition of a single member rarely plays a crucial role in a band's success, but in this case, it would seem new keyboardist Jaycelyn Brown was the missing piece of the Said The Whale puzzle. Her backup singing is an integral part of this album's most memorable tracks.
There isn't a bad song in this bunch. Said The Whale have gone and made a career-defining album much sooner, I'd say, than anyone expected them to.
Islands Disappear - PopMatters album review
[+ Show ]
Music and geography have always enjoyed something of a bountiful relationship. The planet we inhabit...Music and geography have always enjoyed something of a bountiful relationship. The planet we inhabit provides endless highways for touring musicians to ply their craft, but there’s so much more. Those endless highways eventually give way to lush scenery, bustling metropolis and quaint small towns all the same. Every piece of Earth musicians trek across provides a seemingly endless supply of inspiration, so much so that one can’t help but imagine music without geography. After all, could Neil Young’s Harvest exist without rural Ontario? Or could Gaslight Anthem’s The ’59 Sound sound nearly as authentic without the blue-collar grit of New Jersey? Probably not. And Vancouver’s Said the Whale would probably agree.
Islands Disappear, the band’s second full-length, is as much a study in the blatant effects geography has on a young rock and roll outfit as it is an enlightening and overtly charming blend of pop-rock pageantry. The 13 tracks on Islands Disappear practically leap from the speakers with a vibrancy that one would expect from a band still safely in the prime of their youth. Yet the authenticity which Islands Disappear attains is another matter. Said The Whale demonstrate with razor-sharp efficiency that they are not just a band that dreams of far-away landscapes. They are a band that has been there and lived to tell the tales. And they still sound hungry for more.
Five tracks make allusion to Said the Whale’s native Canada, including the delicate acoustic shuffle of “B.C. Orienteering.” “You should never travel alone / just one false step and you might not make it home,” croons lead singer Tyler Bancroft in a steadfast warble. True enough, the forests of British Columbia are nothing to take on half-assed, but Bancroft and the rest of the band guide listeners with genuine poise.
Calling Islands Disappear a labour of love might be close, but it’s not entirely true. The evocative landscapes Islands Disappear call to mind could only mean that Said the Whale inhale an indisputable respect for the world around them. And when they exhale, a pitch-perfect pop record like Islands Disappear is what happens. It’s a record that isn’t just a companion on road trips. It is a necessity to understanding the beauty of the world around us.
“Camillo (The Magician)”, the record’s single, is as catchy a track as one could ever expect to hear. Rousing, chunky hooks swirl amidst a tale of a magician who has captivated the band with the knowledge of the world that is at the heart of Said the Whale ethos. They might be a young act, but how refreshing it is to hear a band that has an unquenchable thirst for life. “Emerald Lake, AB” picks up where “Camillo” leaves off, and doesn’t miss a step. Patient, afternoon-ready rock gives way to a rousing, building chorus where Bancroft’s croon gives way to a howl. “What a fine life we are livin’”, proclaims Bancroft, and as guitars, horns and drums crash together, it becomes hard to argue.
Yet as immediate and blatant the charm of Islands Disappear, there are layers to the band’s sound which beg for exploration. “Gentleman” could fill the void so many Belle and Sebastian fans are probably feeling. Bancroft bares his soul and eschews the notion of being a “too cool for school” rock star, while “A Cold Night Close to the End” coos with heartfelt campfire vibes, revealing another truth about Said the Whale: they’re a bunch of romantics.
Islands Disappear is indeed a record full of truths. Said the Whale prove that the relationship between music and geography is indispensable. The record proves that this Vancouver act loves that relationship and are helpless to the effects it has on their character and sound. For listeners who find no fault in sing-a-long pop-rock, Islands Disappear is a record that many will be helpless against as well.
By Joshua Kloke
Listen To This: Swimming With The Fishes
[+ Show ]
If The Killers and Badly Drawn Boy were to have a love child, it’d be Said The Whale. Remember wh...If The Killers and Badly Drawn Boy were to have a love child, it’d be Said The Whale.
Remember when “alternative” music used to be a real trendy word? Well, that really is the best way to describe this band.
Hailing from lovely Vancouver, Canada, Said The Whale makes delightfully quirky music. It’s infectious!
Check out the wonderful This Winter I Retire below. Then CLICK HERE to listen to some other tunes from Said The Whale.
Said The Whale: Cover Story
[+ Show ]
Vancouver is home to plenty of musical acts, but there are few who fit the description “local band” ...Vancouver is home to plenty of musical acts, but there are few who fit the description “local band” quite as well as Said the Whale. Anyone who heard the group’s excellent 2008 CD, Howe Sounds/Taking Abalonia, discovered that it was packed with as many West Coast references as indelible melodies. Said the Whale’s two singer-songwriters, Tyler Bancroft and Ben Worcester, have used their craft to explore their individual relationships with the southern coast of British Columbia, with a particular emphasis on the flora and fauna. Enjoying summer’s last gasp on the sidewalk seating of Mount Pleasant’s Gene coffee shop, Bancroft says that he and Worcester didn’t set out to be troubadours of the B.C. landscape: “I don’t think it’s anything we’ve ever consciously done, to write about our environment, but it just kind of seems to be the theme that recurs, that we’ll write about our surroundings and geography.”
“Well,” Worcester reflects, “I generally find that we write about our experience. And I don’t go out to see shows on a regular basis. I don’t go to clubs, I don’t go downtown, and I don’t go do things. Everyone says, ‘What do you want to do tonight?’ I want to go sit at the beach, or I want to go on an adventure—go hiking somewhere, do something fun and get out. And that’s the experience that I live for, so that’s what I write about. That’s what affects my life, and that’s what I see as the best part about living here; the best quality of life is all the surrounding stuff, and I’m not really into the city life. Some people write about their experience going out to a bar and meeting somebody, and some people write about their experience looking at the city from afar.”
“I’d love to be able to write about meeting someone!” the terminally single Bancroft interjects, to which his bandmate replies, “Yeah, what’s that like?”
“We have to write songs about girls and love!” Bancroft concludes.
In fact, Bancroft has done a pretty decent job of writing a personal ad in musical form with “Gentleman”, a track from Said the Whale’s new Islands Disappear album, although he does undercut his own efforts somewhat by declaring himself “a stupid, boring gentleman”.
Elsewhere, though, the just-released album returns to familiar—which is to say, local—themes. On “B.C. Orienteering”, Worcester extols the delights, and enumerates the dangers of, wandering in the woods, while on “Black Day in December”, he offers a lament for the 10,000 or so trees that blew down in Stanley Park during the devastating windstorm of 2006. “The first wind blowing in/Left Stanley’s soldiers felled and broken,” he sings on the latter number, the title of which is a nod to Gordon Lightfoot’s “Black Day in July”.
“Stanley Park is of such significance in this city,” says Worcester, whose sister Robyn manages the Stanley Park Ecology Society’s conservation programs. “It’s a huge amount of forest right in the middle of the city, and people take it for granted. Driving through is just a part of life; you go over the Lions Gate Bridge, but you don’t actually see the amazing park that surrounds it, and how big it truly is.”
Of course, the windstorm didn’t just knock a few trees down. There was also a human cost, a fact that Worcester and Bancroft discovered firsthand. “The morning after the big wind and the big storm, Tyler and I went to Stanley Park with our friend Vanessa [Heins] to take photos,” Worcester recalls. “We were walking along the path, and we didn’t know what the extent of it was. It wasn’t in the papers yet; it had literally just happened. And we saw maybe 20 to 50 homeless guys emptying out their bags and sitting on the path instead of in the forest in their trees where they hide and live. You know, there’s always a number, hundreds of people, living in Stanley Park all the time. It’s this whole other world of homeless people who have found a home in the forest.… And someone was actually killed in it.”
Occasionally grim subject matter aside, Islands Disappear is a joyful listen. Released by the Hamilton, Ontario–based Hidden Pony label, the new album is just as much a tuneful gem as its predecessor, but it bears a more consistent sound, even as the songs range from the campfire folk of “A Cold Night Close to the End” to the baited-hook power pop of “Camilo (The Magician)” and the indie-rock drama of “Out on the Shield”. Bancroft and Worcester take turns singing lead, and each is an impressive guitarist in his own right. The pair are given able backing by drummer Spencer Schoening, bassist Peter Carruthers, and keyboardist Jaycelyn Brown.
“One thing that I’m really excited about this record for is that it’s the first time we’ve made a record with a full lineup set, whereas the first record, the first half of it was just Ben and I in a studio just kind of seeing what happened, and the second half of the record was various different members,” Bancroft says. “Now finally we’ve got a set lineup. We all recorded together, we all rehearsed the songs together and created the songs together. So it’s something we can all be proud of together, instead of having a keyboardist jump on-board promoting an album that they didn’t actually play on, and stuff like that.”
With its personnel firmly in place, Said the Whale will spend much of the next two months on the road, heading out as far as Corner Brook, Newfoundland, and playing in almost every major population centre between here and there. Past tours of Canada have given Bancroft and Worcester a greater appreciation of just how big this country is, and they’ve also given the two something to write about beyond strictly local concerns. As a result, Islands Disappear features songs set in or inspired by Elkhorn, Manitoba; Emerald Lake, Alberta; and the Canadian Shield.
“One thing that stands out in my mind,” says Worcester, “is the vast space of Northern Ontario by Lake Superior, between, let’s say, Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie, when you’re travelling along the lake and it’s snowing, it’s dark and raining…Well, it’s not snowing and raining. Sometimes it is, and that’s the scariest, when the lights on your trailer have gone out and you’re afraid you’re going to die. But more importantly, that’s the two days when you have no cellphone service. And the song ‘Holly, Ontario’, which ends the album, is based on the experience of driving through that space and not having a connection to the rest of the world.”
Featuring little more than Worcester’s reverbed voice and acoustic guitar, “Holly, Ontario” is a haunting affair and it, like the rest of Islands Disappear, is powerful enough to suggest that Said the Whale might be destined to become more than just a Vancouver band after all.
30-90 minutes as per gig requirements
PDF RiderStage plot/Input list
There are no upcoming dates at this time.