Sunday, January 13, 2013

Vinyl Review - Whitehorse - The Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss

Recently I was flipping through the television channels and came across some new music videos on AUX tv! I decided to stop and take a trip down memory lane of growing up in the 90’s when Music Television was my entire television life. Who would have thought they were still making videos!

After a few videos I saw a great one by a band called Whitehorse. The song was Achilles Desire. It had a great guitar riff and the lead singing was split between married couple Luke Doucet and Mellissa McClelland. Luke and Mellissa have had pretty successful solo careers here in Canada. Now as a married couple they formed Whitehorse and are really finding a great sound as a duo.
After discovering them I checked out all of their videos available on their website. Their live performances are really fun to watch. Instead of using a backup band they use sound loops and both play and share many instruments. Reminds me of the technique Howie Day used on ghost years ago on Kilborn. This live technique always interests the hell out of me and it really lets their talent as musicians shine. Plus, not many people are doing it so the ‘wow’ factor is still there, especially with the crazy amount of sound they achieve using these techniques.
I liked what I heard in all of these videos so went to their label’s website, Six Shooter Records, to order an album.
I love the packaging of this album. Somebody really took pride in the appearance and quality. Instead of that nasty shrink wrap, the album was shipped in a nice 3 mil poly sleeve. I prefer this as these sleeves are so much thicker and tend to protect their albums during shipping more than the shrink wrap. Plus I don’t need to buy a sleeve for storage.
I was very happy that the album came with a download card so I can take this album with me on my iPod. Even better than just sending a download card, they made the download card look good! It is basically a postcard with some great band shots and the download information. Most often these download cards are just the size of a business card and not much to look at but these cards are nice enough that I would consider them an insert for the album!
The cover is made of a coarse non-gloss cardboard. Actually, the only gloss is found on the inside of the sleeve which lets the vinyl sleeve slip in and out at ease (not that this has ever been a problem before, but hey it’s nice. It’s red too.)

It came with an insert on the same non gloss cardboard with a few more nice photos to look at along with the album credits.

The only downside in regards to packaging is the lack of a lyric insert. I always like having the lyrics especially for folkie type artists like this.
Six Shooter Records has around 60 releases under their belt. This is a relatively new label which started up in 2000.
They only have vinyl available for their albums that were released since 2008. I couldn’t tell if prior albums were released on vinyl and just out of print or if they just started pressing vinyl when it began to gain popularity. Regardless, at least they are pressing records now.
The vinyl is pressed on nice 180 gram vinyl which seems to be the bar set by the industry lately. The record is held in a heavy weight paper sleeve. Beautiful heavy album with great gloss.
This record sounds great! I especially like how the sound is relatively low on the album. This means you have to turn the stereo up a few extra notches but it gives plenty of room for the sound dynamics. When the drums are hit a little harder or guitar strings strummed a little louder, it comes across nice and loud like as it would in person. To better understand what I am getting at check out Kelties great post on the loudness wars here! Keltie gives some great examples and explanation on this topic.

The music:
I have a hard time putting Whitehorse under a specific genre. Folk, rock and country come to mind. It’s refreshing to not be able to put them under a single category. Some songs are more folk, than you get songs like Achilles Desire and Jane that are more rock and pop. Kind of a risky move to be jumping around genres like this but it works.
Luke and Mellissa play most of the instruments themselves. Besides being great singers and songwriters these two are very talented musicians as well. Triple threat! They split the drumming up throughout the album with a number of different drummers.
They share lead vocals through most songs but I also really enjoyed songs like Peterbilt Coalmine and Devils Got a Gun where they sing harmony. I don’t know if I prefer one approach more than the other but it is great how they hit it both ways keeping the sound fresh throughout the album.
Luke Doucet's talent on the guitar is obvious. The sound that he gets out of his guitars is a cross between a rockabilly crunch and a clean acoustic guitar. It is clear to me that he is holding back on his guitar abilities and I think he is making the right choice. Screaming guitar solos just wouldn’t work as it would take too much away from their singing. These catchy guitar riffs and basic rhythm compliments their voices nicely.
I love the song sequence on this album. I never get bored as their styles changes so often that you are always paying attention.
This album will be getting plenty of play time on my turntable. The packaging was great and the shipping was fast. I will definitely be watching this label closely and placing more orders in the near future. I may have to start with Luke and Mellissa’s solo albums!

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