Music

Whitehorse: Panther in the Dollhouse

Photo courtesy of Six Shooter Records

The music has a Western movie vibe and offers an aural CinemaScope in black and white where the color sometimes bleeds in. Is that blood really red?


Whitehorse

Panther in the Dollhouse

Label: Six Shooter
US Release Date: 2017-07-07
UK Release Date: 2017-07-17
Amazon
iTunes

From the Bee Gees to Calvin Harris, musicians have asked, “How deep is your love?” without really expecting an answer. Husband and wife Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland of Whitehorse address this topic as a duet on their latest release, Panther in the Dollhouse, albeit fictionally. This conceit allows them to explore passion and pain without restraint. However, none of this really matters as much as the fact that it encourages them to ROCK intensely. Whitehorse sound like they dangerously mean it.

So one doesn’t really need to listen to the words (or even song titles such as “Epitaph in Tongues” and “Manitoba Death Star”) to get what Whitehorse is about. The whip-like guitar lines, the muted and reverbed vocals, the snaky and staccato bass and drum lines, all tightly work together to create a menacing retro feel. The music has a Western vibe, as in Western Movies, and offers an aural CinemaScope in black and white where the color sometimes bleeds in. Is that blood really red?

Lines about guys that still live with their mothers, pink kimonos, and sniffles behind the bathroom door evoke people and their problems in the ordinary melodramas of life when it has pushed them too far. Of course, there's sex. Sex always complicates things, say the soon to be separated, but what does a separation mean to those always together? Whitehorse’s music suggests the other never leaves one’s mind even after another body enters the picture. But the body itself and who controls it is one of the powerful subjects on this record.

As in, is one a refugee or a desperado? It depends on who’s kicking down your door, who your neighbors are, and what your papers say. The ghost of Woody Guthrie lives on. Knowing who and what came first matters. Whitehorse know that life is a fight. The edginess of the instrumentation seems to be building an edifice that defies completion. Songs just kind of end without resolution. Whatever began is gone. The hardness of the delivery defies ephemerality. What we hear is the sound of rubble.

The music offers a pastiche of styles to create something that echoes the '40s and '50s, with accents from the '60s and '70s (like that Farfisa organ on “Nighthawks”) and contemporary beat box rhythms. The purpose seems to be to disorient the listener or, more precisely, take the listener out of the moment and into the songs’ realities. It’s familiar enough to sound reassuring and disturbing enough to be something new, like reading an old newspaper and finding that nothing’s changed, except…

And that’s cool! It’s difficult to explain, but the music has a strong, charismatic appeal. You want to hang out and drink with Doucet and look McClelland straight in the eyes while she tells you her stories. You know their sincerity is a put on. They embody mystery. Their music expresses a deeper truth. Yes, hearts will break before the night ends. And one always ends up alone and with the bill. But the quality of the time spent makes it all worthwhile.

7

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Here comes another Kompakt Pop Ambient collection to make life just a little more bearable.

Another (extremely rough) year has come and gone, which means that the German electronic music label Kompakt gets to roll out their annual Total and Pop Ambient compilations for us all.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Rockabilly Female stakes her claim with her band on accomplished new set.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones

Love You To Life

Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2017-08-11
Amazon
iTunes

Lara Hope and her band of roots rockin' country and rockabilly rabble rousers in the Ark-Tones have been the not so best kept secret of the Hudson Valley, New York music scene for awhile now.

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