In band names, is ‘whale’ becoming the new ‘bear’ (which was itself the new ‘wolf’…)? Noah & The Whale (QRO album review), Vulture Whale (QRO album review), Freelance Whales – and now Seattle’s Black Whales, who make a nice, if not overwhelming introduction, on their debut Origins EP.
If the jangly country-rock of opener "The Diamond Divide" is decidedly middle of the country, and not coastal, Black Whales build a nice road with the more roads-y follower, "The Boxer". Other than the twangy loss of middle piece "Books On Tape", Origins is an upbeat, toe-tapping album, though can get a little too cute in its rhythm & vocals, such as on the subsequent "Running In Place". Also, singer/guitarist Alex Robert’s voice can get somewhat nasal & reedy in its own twang (a fate that seems to be befalling many a Pacific Northwest act, like Modest Mouse – QRO album review – and The Shaky Hands – QRO album review). But the relaxed title track builds nicely, and "Roll With the Punches" ends the EP with some catchy upswing.
If Origins EP rarely reaches truly memorable heights, it also rarely dips to (unfortunately) memorable depths. Black Whales do need to build from here, but it’s not a bad place to start.
MP3 Stream: "Roll With the Punches"