Whitey on the Moon
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Whitey on the Moon

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


After some global repositioning, a move from Denver to San Francisco, and some member-juggling, Jamie Osborne and his ramshackle lads strike rock gold with their sophomore album Disconlandia.

Where Special New Band was an experimental genre-roaming trip, Disconlandia goes right for the jugular with 12 catchy-as-heck indie tunes in the spirit of mid-period Pavement with a gleeful humor similar to the Halo Benders. Osborne admittedly toned down his jazzy, space rock leanings to focus on the pleasures of the modern pop song. Thankfully, his off-kilter vocals, reminiscent of Calvin Johnson, and smart Malkmus-like lyrics are even more relentless here than on the debut, as the singer splendidly tackles whiny tales of sun-bathing and drug use by a gay soldier in Afghanistan and aliens in disguise. With the move to California, the music feels sunnier, as if Osborne has discovered the joys of bodyboarding or the laid-back pleasures of Napa Valley. "The Age of Free Poetry," "American Devils," and "Secret Alien" most bring to mind Malkmus and company, the three consecutive tracks making up what feels like a Pavement mini-suite.

Whether or not Whitey on the Moon's ironic indie rock posturing was in touch with the college rock audience circa 2004-2005, who seemed to clamor for dark folk Americana and/or an undercurrent of spry dance beats, Disconlandia's angular slacker vibes and synapse-crunching catchiness saw the band taking confident strides toward a wider audience. One gets the sense that with a bigger recording budget, or maybe just with placement on a couple of television shows or movie soundtracks, Whitey on the Moon would be ready for the big leagues, as the lads certainly have the energy, confidence, and musical chops of a major label success. - Allmusic


The guys in Whitey On The Moon present themselves as an experimental conglomerate of creative individuals, and claim that their current physical avatars originated in the XYY Chromosomal Nebulae. However, listening to Discolandia won't shock unsuspecting listeners with oblique, extraterrestrial sound odditties generated by home appliances, human tissue samples, vandalized CDs or ring modulators from hell. Instead, the trio (?) operates within the more familiar confines of indie rock -- a move that becomes apparent from the very start, with the radiantly catchy "Teenage Superstar 4 God".

Lazy melodic lines, labyrinthine tunes, concise and laconically ironic slacker poetry, spidery and fragile guitars, slightly ramshackle rhythms and careless lo-fi singing replace their previous "indie-soul hop" sound, which was so eclectic it invited references to acts as dissimilar as the Velvet Underground and (gasp) Photek.

Although more focused, cohesive and less genre-defying, these thirteen tracks work on a subtle, insidious level: the telegraphic cleverness found in lyrics like "After the divorce there was an age of free poetry..." (from the delicious "Age Of Free Poetry") reveals an undeniable debt to Stephen Malkmus, while the sometimes laid-back, sometimes off-kilter atmospheres reference not only Pavement, but also Beck, Guided By Voices and Calvin Johnson. (The placid "Lapdog", which surprisingly recalls The Sea And Cake circa Nassau or The Biz, is a notable exception.)

Discolandia is living proof that wacky concepts sometimes triumph. Whitey On The Moon claim to be able to "sustain and increase the funkentelechy of any social gathering" -- whatever that means. Let's hope they find their way onto the stereo at lots of gatherings this summer. - Spendid Ezine


Ok, I've listened to this album about 20 times, so I should get a sense of it by now, right? Well, no, not really. There are a host of musicians here playing mandolin, accordion, saxophone, cello, trumpet and more in addition to the regular rock-based instruments.

So is it possible to describe the music here? Yeah, but not easily. This band is wacky and unusual, and they have a host of influences that all touch on the songs here. The songs all have your basic rock structure, but there are different things going on. At times they're almost jazzy, at others heavier, at others mellow and restrained. The vocals are usually buzzed and sounding unusual, quite off-beat. There's even a variety of samples and recordings thrown in throughout. Sometimes the songs have no apparent structure, and other times they're quite impressive.

Ok, so let's try to tear apart these songs. "Good Enough" starts with some heavy bass and almost jazzy rhythm and this cool string thing going on, but the vocals are so odd and disparate to the music, it tends to overwhelm the music. And then the Chipmunks make a guest appearance on vocals (or at least their imitators). Now I think the regular vocals work well on "No Going Back," a more contemplative number with an improvised feel and a great use of horns. And then, out of nowhere, "I'm Known to Stay at Home" blows me away. This instrumental uses a synthesized drum-beat, samples, and some killer guitar and rock sensibilities to ... well, to sound like pretty much nothing I've heard before. And while "Better Than Anything" is a good example of where the band's chaotic, incohesive nature causes the music to become lost in its own mesh of sounds, the next track, "Billy Graham's Dogs," despite the silly lyrics, is a thing of beauty, with actual singing and some almost country-ish acoustic guitar. "Broken Record Soul" probably has the most jazzy structure, both from the lightly brushed drums, the strings and horns, and the more laid-back, almost soulful vocals. There's an almost hip-hop feel to "Poison Arrow," reminding me of a rougher Soul Coughing. And "9 Cans" finishes things up in a very mellow, very intense instrumental that is downright gorgeous.

The one main thing I notice about this band is how incredibly talented the musicians are. The guitar and bass are crisp and impressive, when you listen hard enough to pick them out. The horns and strings add a nice backing to the whole mix. The vocals, while unusual, are really just the band's main unique quality. Now if it all wasn't mixed up like in a blender, creating a very thick, very jumbled sound, the band would likely be more accessible. But maybe accessibility isn't what they're going for. Many of these songs sound like they were improvised as the band sat around and jammed, and that's a pretty interesting sound.

Regardless, this album is really quite good. It may not sound it from my description, but it's the kind of album that takes about 10 or 20 listens to pick out the subtleties. The music is top-notch, especially in its jazziest moments, and the vocals start to actually work after a while. Really weird but very cool stuff from this Denver band. - Delusions of Adequacy


Discography

2000 Special New Band
2004 Discolandia

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Whitey on the Moon founder Jamie Osborne's introduction to popular music was by way of the Electrifying Mojo, a Detroit, Michigan radio broadcaster who helped to bring Techno to public awareness. Fueled by Mojo's eclecticism, Osborne wrote wrote hip hop tracks with a high school friend, seeking to emulate the euphoric tunes he discovered on the radio.

Osborne focused his attention to college radio, while an electrical engineering student at Georgia Tech. He directed 91.1FM WREK Atlanta's public affairs programming and hosted a weekly show, "A Toast to the Boogie," that focused on classic soul, Motown, and pre-disco funk. As it was the early 1990s, WREK's playlists and Atlanta's music venues echoed the emergence of independent rock. Becoming immersed in such artists as Sonic Youth, Slint, and Fugazi, Osborne gained new motivation and inspiration to write his own material.

2000's Special New Band was recorded in Colorado with the help and input of jazz musicians and friends from Denver, Atlanta, Detroit and Oakland. Initially mixed by engineer Bob Burnham and recorded straight to two tracks, the album was later mixed and mastered in Oakland at Tree House studios.

A move to the Bay Area in 2001 saw Osborne writing and performing compositions for theater, film, and video. In 2002, he eventually crossed paths with drummer and percussionist Greg Marasso (Go National/Fulcrum Break). The duo played BART stations, street corners, and house parties until they met up with bassist and multi-instrumentalist Amir Djaveranian in Spring 2004. The trio began to write new material and continued to play living rooms, local bars, and street festivals during the summer of 2004. With the help of AJ Wilhelm (Filibuster), Whitey on the Moon's sophomore album Discolandia was recorded and mixed at the Hangar Studios in Sacramento, California. Discolandia was released in the Fall of 2004 on Vela Para Todo Records.

In Summer 2006, the trio added Jonathon Kepke (Boneless Children Foundation, Killing My Lobster) on rhodes, piano and organ. Their next album is tentatively titled "Joyeria" and is slated for release in early 2007.