Music

The Whigs: Enjoy the Company

Photo: Joshua Black Wilkins

Enjoy the Company is one big rock and roll party, partially cribbing from the sounds of yesterday while sounding remarkably contemporary.


The Whigs

Enjoy the Company

Label: New West
US Release Date: 2012-09-18
UK Release Date: Import
Amazon
iTunes

If you looked at the flip side of the jewel case for this Athens, Georgia group's fourth CD, Enjoy the Company, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the entire thing was one big throwback. “Staying Alive”, the opening cut and longest track clocking in at more than eight minutes, might make you think of a certain Bee Gees mega hit. “Thank You” might have you recalling Led Zeppelin’s second album. There’s also a song called “Rock and Roll Forever”, which is a song about, yes, playing rock music, which recalls the work of many rock bands/musicians that sung about rock or being in rock bands, such as Chuck Berry, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Velvet Underground, AC/DC and the Ramones. And when you finally put the disc in your player and hear those opening notes to “Staying Alive”, with its stick-in-your-head melody, rolling guitars and jittery saxophone, you might be forgiven for feeling the song was a cover by some long-lost and forgotten ‘70s AM radio band. For some reason, I think about Pilot’s one mid-‘70s hit “Magic” when hearing “Staying Alive”, though the melodies are quite a bit dissimilar. But a similar radio-polished vibe is definitely there. Shrug. Maybe it’s just me.

All in all, Enjoy the Company is one big rock and roll party, partially cribbing from the sounds of yesterday while sounding remarkably contemporary – the whole thing sounds a little Foo Fighters-ish to these ears. Part of the latter might be because lauded pseudo-indie producer John Agnello has a hand in the proceedings, as he did on records for the likes of Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., the Hold Steady and Drive-By Truckers. That is part of Enjoy the Company’s appeal. It sounds like something from a variety of eras, and some credit must be given where credit is due. The songs themselves are actually pretty on the spot, for the most part. There’s nothing here that’s going to alight the rock and roll world afire, but the 10 tracks that bulk up Enjoy the Company are generally pretty melodically tornado-proof, even if they may also be a tad bit inconsequential, if not silly. For instance, first single “Summer Heat” is simply about a friend who gets incarcerated over the triviality of an unpaid speeding ticket after being thrown out of a bar. Hardly the stuff that makes for sterling rock songs, per se, but it is catchy enough in its own way if you don’t pay much scrutiny to the song’s origins. In fact, you might find yourself pumping your fist in the air to it, which is pretty much the sole utility to the piece in question. Which is, of course, not a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all.

What is truly the record’s really remarkable moment is the aforementioned “Staying Alive”: a jammy, meandering piece if there was one. The first four or so minutes of it are remarkably poppy, and have a knack for staying inside your head even after only a couple of listens, and then it turns into an impressive improv smack-down without running out of steam or running off course. It is a brave move for the band to take: to make what might be arguably their best song on the album and create something paradoxically both radio-friendly in tone and radio-unfriendly in length. I’m sure, though, that an edited version might move many a unit for the band. It’s simply a great late summery, back to school track that brings the rock to the table. The remainder of the album is peppered with consistent material, even if the remaining songs might not be as instantly memorable as “Staying Alive”. The late album track “Couple of Kids” does come close in all of its propulsive giddiness.

The album has quite a few two-and-a-half minute songs, presumably so short to make way for the behemoth that is “Staying Alive”, but they generally go down well as they have consistently catchy hooks and, of course, don’t overstay their welcome. Arguably the best of the batch immediately follows “Staying Alive”. That would be “Gospel”, which has a certain mid-tempo swing to it that is remarkably similar to anything that has come from the hands of Dave Grohl in recent years. Almost as equally impressive is “Tiny Treasures”, which has just the right dash of countrified steel guitar during the chorus. And the acoustic “Thank You” kind of resembles sonically "Wild Packs of Family Dogs” off of Modest Mouse’s beloved The Moon and Antarctica – even though the former is simply a rote love song that just about anyone could have written. Speaking of lyrics, there is the occasional howler, such as on "Thank You", which actually has a line that goes, "scream if you get bit by the snake in the yard". Yeah. Not sure if that's just bad sexual innuendo, or just bad.

Despite that, everything adds up to essentially make Enjoy the Company a decent, and yet strangely fulfilling listen. I find myself with reason to find fault with the record – lyrically, it is nothing spectacular, though it is positively uplifting at times (see “Thank You”) – and yet, I find myself enjoying it – really enjoying it – in equal measure. There are a couple of somewhat duff songs, particularly in the mid-section. “After Dark” is simply OK, though it seemingly goes nowhere during the course of its precisely four minutes, and “Waiting” is kind of rote and by-the-numbers for a rock song. But there’s a great deal to really love and appreciate with Enjoy the Company if you come to it with no expectation at all. Even though the choice of band name itself is rather suspect and may make you reach for a certain group fronted by Greg Dulli, the Whigs have crafted a simply enjoyable record with Enjoy the Company and there is certainly no shame in that. Simply put, Enjoy the Company isn’t an overly grossly spectacular record; it is just good time rock and roll. That’s not embarrassing in the least, and if you’re simply looking for a record to have some fun with, here’s an album that you’ll enjoy being in some company with.

6

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image