Black Whales
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Black Whales

Seattle, Washington, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2008

Seattle, Washington, United States
Established on Jan, 2008
Band Rock Psychedelic

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"Black Whales' "Elephant #2" Video Is Wild and Sinister in All the Right Places"

Earlier this week, our man Joe Williams talked to Black Whales' frontman Alex Robert about "Elephant #2," a track off the band's most recent record, last year's Shangri-La Indeed (which you can listen to in full on Bandcamp).
"Elephant #2" is a slow-boiling track, led by Robert's echoing vocals and a tangle of reverbing guitar lines; it churns with anxiety and yearning. It also happens to be the song that the band recently shot a music video for--the clip was directed by Reverb's good friend Bobby McHugh, who did a marvelous job of capturing the song's loose, psychedelic atmosphere and translating that into some colorful imagery, on a budget that he described to me as "less then what the average person in Belltown spends on their winter coat."

McHugh and his crew show "Elephant #2" at Black Whales' practice space inside a 100-year-old SoDo warehouse. The video depicts the band drinking and playing cards at a party as Robert detaches into a fugue state apart from his company and goes a little crazy--becoming the "elephant in the room" that the song refers to--eventually becoming haunted by visions of black-hooded figures and a group of creepy children in animal masks. The flickering lights, the sinister-looking extras, and the spacey imagery all fit the weird, despondent mood of the song just perfectly. - SeattleWeekly.com - By Erin Thompson


"Song of the Day: Black Whales - Vietnam"

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased tracks, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Every Friday we feature a local band from Seattle and the rest of the Northwest. Today’s selection, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Vietnam,” the new single from Seattle band Black Whales.

On listening to the latest single by Seattle’s Black Whales, the first thing you’ll notice is how much moodier it is than anything on their 2011 full-length debut, Shangri-La Indeed. Less jangle-pop and more psychedelic rock, Black Whales follow Austinites The Black Angels into the killing fields on “Vietnam.” A haunting guitar line introduces the track before its overtaken by their marching rhythm section and a wave of fuzzed-out vocals from singer/guitarist Alex Robert. The tension of the track builds, only to release and give way to Robert’s muffled cry of “I can’t get out, no I can’t get out of Vietnam!” When the band comes back in, psychedelic and charged guitars fill the track until the band’s kinetic energy yields to Robert’s vocal and a lingering guitar line, much like a flickering candle being blown out after burning all night.

There’s no news yet as to whether “Vietnam” is a one-off or is leading the way for a new LP. The band’s still riding high from last June’s release of Shangri-La Indeed and just opened the Yeti Stage this past weekend to a salivating crowd at Sasquatch! They play their next show at the Tractor Tavern on July 13. Check in with them on their Facebook page and website for more. For now, here they are performing during last year’s Concerts at the Mural series, presented by KEXP and Seattle Center... - KEXP.org - By JACOB WEBB


"The Black Whales Defy Description"

Every time I describe the Black Whales to someone, the band ends up sounding like a band I wouldn't want to touch with a 10 foot headphone cord. Their songs, while jangly and jolly, often sound like a cross between the Cave Singers (who I love) and the Shins (who I do not love at all). There's a little Americana vibe in there, three out of five of the members have beards, and the drummer has punk rock roots because he used to be in the bad ass band the Catheters. In words, they sounds so precious. They sound like they'd be exactly so many other local bands I've heard before. BUT! Somehow, the Black Whales make it work. And I love them. And even though they upped the whole "annoyingly precious" factor by giving props to the Washington Environmental Council during their performance at the Sky Church (hippies), I still thought they were mesmerizing, energizing, and fun.

They're magic. The Black Whales are magic. That's the only explanation for it.

http://lineout.thestranger.com/lineout/archives/2009/09/06/the-black-whales-defy-description - The Stranger- Megan Seling


"CMJ Night 1: Black Whales"

Black Whales was besieged by the technical difficulties so inherent to CMJ showcases. That’s too bad, because in many ways they were the most original band of the night. And upon a next-day listen of all the bands, Black Whales’ recordings are certainly the most enjoyable. They are entirely unaffected (can’t say that about any other band of the night) and exude sincerity, but definitely not shlockiness. Their songs seem effortlessly played and they are in a timeless vein of slightly off-center pop rock: melodic, but unexpectedly so. It was discouraging to see them lose power in the middle of their already-rushed set and they seemed discouraged too. It did leave me wanting more, however, and to speculate how great they would be under normal show circumstances. - EarFarm.com


"Cool Band: Black Whales"

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.”

http://www.gloriousnoise.com/shorties/2009/cool_band_alert_black_whales.php - GloriousNoise.com


"Black Whales- Origins Review"

With just seven songs, the Black Whales manage to make a damn fine introduction to the world. With influences that are as varied as The Clash, The Beach Boys, Talking Heads and The Kinks, Origins manages to incorporate a myriad of influences while still sounding starkly original.

Songs like the rollicking “Young Blood” and the more rootsy “Origins” are among the strongest on the EP, though there’s not really a bad song to be found. It takes a lot for a new band to stand out in a top tier music city like Seattle, but the Black Whales have done just that with Origins. Can’t wait for a full LP.

Top tracks: “Young Blood” and “Origins”

Rating: 8 out of 10

http://neufutur.com/?p=10921 - NeuFutur Magazine


"Introducing: Black Whales"

If you like more concrete definitions, then I’ll tell you that Black Whales are the kind of band that embed the right amount of darkness within their music and lyrics without going overboard. (Self-loathing was so 1990s.) This is something that allows them to switch up their melodies and rhythms from track to track without sounding like a band that doesn’t fit into their own skin.

Origins is their latest EP and was recorded in early 2008 and will be released on September 15th, 2009. We live in a society that craves (some sort of) structure when regarding their music. They want themes, reasons, and songs about heartbreak. What happens when a band takes that and trashes the norm? I’m not saying that Black Whales are musical anarchists and are taking routes you should fear (or admire). I’m saying that sometimes you don’t really need to do what everybody else is doing. Sometimes a band just needs to do what feels right. Alex Robert of Black Whales has this to say about their latest work:

“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.”

Thematic or not, effortless arrangements and lyrics make Black Whales a refreshing band to listen to. If you want to catch some streaming tracks of Black Whales’ acoustic demos and upcoming tracks, then you should head over to the music section of their official website.

http://www.audioholicmedia.com/audioholic-media-news/introducing-black-whales/ - Audioholic Media


"Artopia: Ride the Black Whales"

Black Whales hasn't put out any albums yet, but in 18 months of existence, the band's nevertheless built a reputation on live performance alone. And that's not due to a preoccupation with showmanship. There's nothing flashy about Black Whales' sets. It's just a few scruffy guys playing your standard rock-band instruments: vocalist and guitarist Alex Robert, drummer Davey Brozowski, bassist Ryan Middleton, and lead guitarist-slash-keyboard player Alan Foote. What stands out is the songwriting—feel-good melodies paired with relatable, poignant lyrics—that caught Seattle's attention. And it doesn't hurt that Black Whales have carved a small sonic niche in the nether region between one popular genre and another, bridging the gap between twangy bands like the Maldives and the Moondoggies and straight-ahead indie-rock acts like Telekinesis and Say Hi.

What's most remarkable about Black Whales is the speed with which they've established themselves in a scene overstuffed with like-minded pop bands. Black Whales formed in January 2008. A few months later, the fledgling band was booked for the Capitol Hill Block Party, with nothing more than a four-song demo to prove their songwriting prowess. "We never really had a release," Robert explains. "It was just a demo we gave out at shows for free." And yet that demo was enough to help Black Whales get a slot at this year's Bumbershoot and ink a deal with Mt. Fuji Records, a local indie label that's home to bands like the Whore Moans and Portland pop band Point Juncture, WA.

Recently the band added a new member, Mike Bayer, an organist who lent his talents to "Young Blood," a song from Origins, the band's first EP. While Robert is happy with that one, he says he'd like to take a more experimental turn on the band's first full-length. Black Whales has already begun writing, and the songs they've produced so far, he says, reflect that aim. "In my mind, it starts out really light and gets more and more experimental," Robert says. "It's definitely beyond [the second EP we're going to] put out in September.In the next six months, [we're going to] split away from that kind of shiny-indie-pop comparison."

http://www.seattleweekly.com/2009-06-24/arts/ride-the-black-whale-s/ - Seattle Weekly


"Black Whales explores its own genesis on debut EP Origins"

Black Whales drummer Davey Brozowski and singer/guitarist Alex Robert shared a practice space before they shared a band.

In the confines of a joint practice space in Seattle, Brozowski and Robert got to know each other. When their respective bands fizzled, they started anew as the Black Whales. Since that start two years ago, the lineup was filled out by guitarist Alan Foote, bassist Ryan Middleton and keyboardist/percussionist Mike Bayer, Brozowski said.

Brozowski said the band formed out of conversations among the five members and from watching each other’s former bands play. From there, they started scratching out a sound from influences like the Kinks, Rolling Stones and other rock groups that they hadn’t had much of a chance to incorporate in past projects, he said.

Things clicked fast in the first songwriting sessions and soon the band “had four songs we were stoked about,” Brozowski said.

He said all of the band’s first steps have been helpful. Its first recording session was very open, without concrete plans for how things should sound.

“That really helped all of us define what we were doing,” Brozowski said.

Parts of that session, coupled with a second recording session, make up the songs on the band’s initial EP, Origins.

The EP is a reflection of how the band works and how it’s already starting to evolve.

Brozowski said the band tries to take things in the songs Robert writes and then the members challenge themselves to elevate them. They take a simple structure and give it a twist.

“Diamond Divide” started with a slower, relaxed feel. Eventually they decided to pick up the pace, and that led to several new ideas that changed the song.

Meanwhile, “Origins” is a collaborative effort that began with one guitar line in a practice session jam and ultimately became a song.

“That song, too, was kind of a turning point for us,” Brozowski said.

He said it’s a signpost for the band, pointing to where the group is going.

The EP has been followed by the Black Whales’ first video, a homemade affair for “Diamond Divide” that was shot inside a 100-year-old building in Seattle’s SoDo warehouse district.

The band rented equipment, conferred with each other on shot ideas and then got to it. They enlisted a friend to hold the camera when a shot required all the band members.

“It was cheapest way to do it,” Brozowski said.

The EP also brought the band into the Mt. Fuji Records fold. The label is run by ex-Omahan and Cops frontman Mike Jaworski.

Brozowski said Jaworski approached them early on, letting them know he’d be interested in releasing something for them when they were ready. The Mt. Fuji deal allowed them a chance to get on a label, while still leaving most of the release decisions up to the band.

That meant the band had to decide mastering, song listing and artwork by itself. The Seattle release show sold out.

“That’s when the excitement hit,” Brozowski said. “And we get to go on tour, which is very exciting.”

That tour brings them to O’Leaver’s Pub Oct. 15 — another instance of Mt. Fuji assistance. Jaworski contacted O’Leaver’s to talk up the band, then Brozowski stepped in to get the show booked.

Brozowski said working with a small label like Mt. Fuji is cool because it allows a more personal relationship. There’s a love of music behind the label.

“He wants to put out a record because he likes it,” Brozowski said.

Brozowski said it appears Mt. Fuji is paying off for other roster bands, like the Maldvies and the Whore Moans.

“I think it’s great, especially when you’re a smaller band,” he said. ,


http://www.thereader.com/music.php?subaction=showfull&id=1255636446&archive=&start_from=&ucat=7& - The Omaha Reader


"Black Whales – Origins (Music Review)"

At first listen, I couldn’t get the phrase “jangly alt-pop” out of my head, although there is a lot more going on at second (and ninth and fifteenth) listen. All of the songs fall between three and four minutes long, allowing them to squeeze a lot of great music into the 7-song EP.

The Black Whales have a fantastic sound. The production is bright and poppy, the guitars are stuck on reverb, the bass is bouncy but not overpowering, and the drums are peppy and well-timed. Guitarist and singer, Alex Robert, has a voice that reminds me of Scott Thomas from his California LP: sweet, clean, and talented, if somewhat limited in range. Often a limited vocal range is usually a drawback in alt-pop that can make or break a band’s “sound,” but that isn’t the case here. It all reminds me of a tight pub band that is ready to move on to something much, much bigger.

Other influences show up on Origins upon close inspection. Elements of the Replacements, the Strokes, Archers of Loaf, and a dash of Elvis Costello for flavor as well. These influences don’t, at first glance, seem to be all that well connected, but on Origins it works very well. There is a definite Doors influence (or would that be more accurately a “moderate borrowing?”) on the track “Origins,” with its slow, driving melody and phrasing. Other great tracks to check out on the EP are: “Books on Tape,” a 4-minute melodic rock tune about a grown-up view of relationships and “Running in Place,” a great poppy tune about letting young people be young. Also, “Roll with the Punches” has a great drum breakdown at around 2:34. This all being said, none of the tracks are anything less than “very good” if you like jangly reverb alternative music. I certainly hope to hear more from these boys in the future.

This EP makes me happy to see that the Seattle sound was not completely corrupted by the money machine that swept through in the early ’90s.

The final verdict? Its going on my iPod, no question about it.

http://www.zaptownmag.com/2009/09/black-whales-origins-music-review - Zap Town Mag


"Black Whales – "Origins" (Review)"

Seattle-based rock ‘n' rollers Black Wales satisfy straight-ahead ears with their most recent EP, Origins. Black Whales bring stripped-down, rawness that many bands strive for, and execute this very naturally. The title track of the EP illustrates an arrival of the verge to a major event. Yet no matter what the outcome, or how dire it's portrayed, nothing really changes afterward and it might as well be the next written piece of fictional literature rather than the factual headline. For fans of The Strokes or The Killers, Black Whales fulfill that good-clean-fun, rock n' roll you can bounce around your room to. You can also catch these guys at Bumpershoot ‘09 in their hometown this month.
Andrew Framstead

http://synthesis.net/2009/09/09/black-whales-origins/ - Synthesis.net


"Black Whales Surfacing"

In addition to pondering how a person without a wristband might pass the vast expanse of the fence surrounding Memorial Stadium, something we’ve all done at one time or another, among Davey Brozowski’s favorite Bumbershoot memories are his young self learning the power of the crowd. “I remember crowd-surfing for the first time ever at a Gas Huffer show at Bumbershoot. When I was sixteen or something. I’m not a very daring person, so it was exciting. I was like ‘What am I doing trusting myself to be tossed around by all these strangers in this dark sweaty place?!’”

This week Brozowski will make a return to Bumbershoot not as a young fan, but as drummer for the Black Whales who are performing on the locally focused stage in our city’s cathedral of rock, the Experience Music Project. That in the year and a half since they’ve first started playing shows this band has been able to secure regular opening spots for national openers at venues like the Crocodile and Chop Suey and are now invited to play in all of the city’s major rock festivals has been an impressive and somewhat pleasant surprise to a group of people who were initially simply interested in using a shared practice space their previous bands had occupied. “Kind of a fluke,” muses Brozowski over the phone from one of the many hotels he inhabits while on tour doing a stint as a drum tech for another touring band.

After a process of six months of informal playing together following the dissolution of previous bands the Tallbirds and Tourist, the group had written a few songs they were happy with and decided to commit them to tape with engineer Zack Reinig. “I don’t think anyone went into it with any expectations,” Brozowski says. “Let’s just have fun, and explore these ideas of things we want to try.” Then, through the course of the sessions that would result in the Origins EP (out Sept. 15th on Mt. Fuji Records), a cohesive band with modern rock edge emerged.



The seven songs on Origins EP keenly reflect that philosophy of trying to have fun and creating something new, despite occasional heady and unhappy lyrics about dealing with moving on. The music emanates an optimistic sense of decisive purpose and perpetual forward motion, the feel of the songs can feeling intentionally counter to lyrics which often depict the opposite feeling in real life as in “Running in Place” in the unforgettable line ‘Please be good to us/cause we’re young and dumb/never wrong.’

The final song of the seven “Roll with the Punches,” is an upbeat number that caps this sense of optimism, and a general theme of moving on from the past with eyes raised to the horizon, with a stark declaration of perseverance. The songs first lines “I cheated to be here/to be the next in line/cause this kind of thing/doesn’t happen all the time” seems a recognition of the necessity to do whatever it takes long term to go after that once in a lifetime dream. Wanting something more than anything means taking extraordinary measures, enduring the bad with the good, rolling with the punches, and occasionally breaking a bone because of it. And it means falling hard because you care, and getting right back up because your fall made the fires of ambition rage even more strongly than before.

The Black Whales play the EMP stage at Bumbershoot at 2pm on Sunday September 6th.

The Origins EP arrives in local record stores everywhere September 15th.

- Sound On The Sound Dot Com


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

Black Whales is a five-piece psych-pop rock band from Seattle. Their sound drifts between booming, almost danceable psychedelic anthems to darker and more ambient territories. Pulling heavily from groups that have inspired them over the years, the band draws comparisons to groups from The Velvet Underground, 13th Floor Elevators and The Jesus and Mary Chain to more modern day contemporaries such as Kurt Vile, The War On Drugs and Crocodiles. 

Formed in the winter of 2008 by close friends and longtime collaborators Alex Robert (vocals, guitar) and Alan Foote (guitar), the pair soon found a third partner in drummer Davey Brozowski (drums) before adding Ryan Middleton (bass) and later, organ and keys were introduced to the sound. During the first years, the band experimented with different genres and styles, adopting a reverb-soaked garage pop sound, while also experimenting a bit with the freak-folk genre. This sound took them around the US and saw Black Whales sharing stages with groups like The Breeders, Wooden Shjips, Vetiver, The Presidents of the United States of America, My Best Fiend and The Night Marchers, to name a few. The group have traveled coast-to-coast, playing festivals from national events such as SXSW, CMJ, San Diego Music Thing and Bumbershoot to more local NW events such as Seattles Capitol Hill Block Party, Doe Bay Fest and Portlands Music Fest NW. 

Black Whales have just finished their second full-length record, an LP entitled Through The Prism, Gently. The groups singer and songwriter Robert wrote and co-produced the album alon gside co-producer and drummer Brozowski and main producer and mixer, Eric Corson. The record would change hands many times, eventually being mixed and influenced by four different people which include Eric Corson (The Long Winters), Richard Swift (Foxygen, Damien Jurado), Mark Rains (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Waylon Jennings) and the groups own Robert. The result is a very colorful mix of production style and approach.

Using a dozen or more demos recorded at home as a guide, the band set out to create something very different from any of their previous efforts. The focus was put strongly on finding the best and most colorful sounds and moods for each track. Charmingly ancient synths, oddly detuned loops and found sounds play an equal role alongside the traditional rock instrumentation. From a motorcycle riding, Suicide-inspired track like Do You Wanna Dance to the slightly stoned, paisley groove of Tiny Prisms, the record oozes a thick vibe that feels like warm glue and at times smells a bit like Peyote smoke.

The band is exploring options for a release of the mastered Through The Prism, Gently, hoping to spend 2014 sharing its contents with audiences out in the world, both on stages and inside a good set of headphones.

BLACK WHALES IS:
Alex Robert: Vox/Guitar
Alan Foote: Guitar
Ryan Middleton: Bass
Dave Martin: Keys/Vox
Adam Fream: Drums

WEBSITE:
www.blackwhales.com

Band Members