A band with a weird name, from San Francisco, playing country. How cool is that?
San Francisco’s Or, the Whale summon up a pleasant surprise on Light Poles and Pines, as if anything less could be expected from a band named after the Herman Melville novel -- their niche is in a rather warm brand of country-rock. They have no qualms, for example, about name-dropping New Orleans for the sake of one of their good-natured, fuzzy choruses, even though they’re from California, or announcing "Gee-tar!" in the most Texan accent they can manage to cue a guitar solo in "Threads". Light Poles is syrupy thick in rich harmonies and a yearning swoon that makes it impossible to ignore. What’s more, their eagerness to dabble in both their genres works to their advantage: the seven-member group eschew country’s ludicrous and irrelevant song titles, while their rock background enhances the application of their steely freight-train acoustic guitar chords and the drums contribute a straight, ever-pulsing beat.