So I’m still probably one of the handful of people in New York that was able to actually stand listening to Whirlwind Heat‘s first album, Do Rabbits Wonder? I’ve seen them more times than I probably realize: in the basement at CBGB’s, Coachella, Soma in San Diego, Knitting Factory, Roseland opening up for the White Stripes, Mercury Lounge a few times…heck, I even spent my 22nd birthday at a Whirlwind Heat concert. Two days later I spent Valentine’s Day seeing Beck at Maxwell’s but half wishing I could be at Southpaw seeing WH again. I even wrote a lengthy article about Whirlwind Heat once.
So you would think I would have been all over their new album, Types of Wood, like a sweaty sock. But I wasn’t…until just today when Audrey prompted me to listen to the new album–and the song “Reagan” in particular.
Those familiar with the Whirlwind Heat’s music will know that in the past they could be described as jangly, distorted, Moog-ed out, jittery pop rock. But this new album is a real progression for them. All the quirkiness of WH is still there, but the sound is much more mature and more refined than anything I’ve heard of theirs before. It’s–dare I say it–a sophisticated sound for WH.
Singer David Swanson‘s vocals are no longer the panic-sounding screaming they once were. In fact, it seems as though he’s mellowed out on some early Beck albums–think One Foot In the Grave or Mellow Gold. I can’t get how much David sounds like Beck on “Reagan”–if you listen with your eyes closed you could totally imagine the track being the missing song off of Odelay. The melodies are slightly psychadellic and spooky, but the lyrics are less scrambled magnetic poetry, and more linear narrative–which is a nice change to see in WH’s songwriting.
Songs like “My Electric Underwear” will definately remind WH fans of their signature sound, but I think tunes like “Nylon Heat” (a slow one) and “Gene Pool Style” (which reminds me of Adam Green singing over a Nirvana song for some unknown reason) will catch people by surprise.
I kinda can’t wait to see them play Knitting Factory with Be Your Own Pet on June 12th. What better way to spend an evening than watching 3 skinny white boys dance around like they’ve been electrocuted?
Until then, you can check out their video for “Reagan”–which is totally what the Yeah Yeah Yeahs “Gold Lion” video would look like if it had been shot in daylight…and everyone was shirtless and wearing feathers in their hair.