Articles tagged with Said the Whale

Holly, far from home

Members of the Hollerado-Tang Clan
A few weeks ago, I went to the launch party for Teen Daze‘s Cultus Vibes label. I lost my scarf at the party, and Teen Daze helped me to track it down a few days later. Thanks for being thoughtful, Teen Daze!

Here’s his latest remix. It’s for Vancouver’s Said the Whale. He turned the band’s acoustic ballad “Holly, Ontario” into a banging electro track.

Go to Exclaim! to read my write-up about the remix (and here for my article about Said the Whale getting its gear jacked).


 
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Seasonal cuisine, finest of them all

Orange wristbands for everyone
For the fourth consecutive year, Said the Whale has released a Christmas EP. It’s only got two songs (one of which is barely a minute long), so it’s really more a single. But it’s free, so who’s complaining? I interviewed singer Tyler Bancroft about the new EP for a brief piece in the Georgia Straight.

You can pick up both tracks for free over at the band’s official site. My favourite of the two is the silky “Brightest on My Street,” which you can download below. With its falsetto harmonies and swirling organ, this is halfway between Bon Iver and modern R&B.

MP3: “Brightest on My Street”
 
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Thought my water weight was fine

Stimulus overload!
Last night, Kyprios won the Peak Performance Project. Go to Exclaim! to read my story about the finals, which also featured performances from runners-up Said the Whale and Vince Vaccaro. The weirdest part about the night was that I somehow ended up standing around for five minutes holding Said the Whale’s novelty cheque for $75,000.

Speaking of Said the Whale and last night (segue), here’s the band’s new song, “Last Night,” which was released for free via the Peak’s website. It a synth-y, electrified rocker that recalls the new wave stylings of Metric.

The photo to the left was taken by Leigh Eldridge.

MP3: “Last Night”
 
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With your heart in your pen

So, you band is called Sand the Whole?
Said the Whale‘s first ever release was a mostly-acoustic EP, Let’s Have Sound, which was home recorded by songwriters Tyler Bancroft and Ben Worcester. The band returned to its roots for the iTunes-only EP Bear Bones, which was recorded in Worcester’s bedroom, and features stripped-down instrumentation and bite-sized track lengths (“Pretty City” clocks in at under a minute).

“A Song for Me” is a gorgeous love song, Worcester’s guitar and voice by subtle keyboard tinkling and falsetto harmonies. Like much of the band’s recent (and awesome) Islands Disappear, the tune appears to have been written on tour, as Worcester refers to the prairies, mountains and Great Lakes while pining for a lover back home.

I recently spoke with Tyler Bancroft about the EP for the Georgia Straight.

MP3: “A Song for Me”
 
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I can’t stop the blushing

What do you mean you hate my embroidery?
February 13 is a bad day for a breakup. Not really worse than any other day of the year, I suppose, but I’m using it as an excuse to substantiate my hatred of Valentine’s Day.

Then again, maybe Valentine’s Day isn’t all bad. It recently inspired Vancouver singer-songwriter Hannah Georgas to record a love song, “The Right Time,” which she has now released as a free download just in time for the big day. It’s a sugary piano ditty, featuring Tyler Bancroft of Said the Whale on vocal harmonies, and its charmingly romantic lyrics make it perfect for your Valentine’s Day playlist.

Amor eterno, you guys.

MP3: “The Right Time”
 
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Squishing pennies and kissing girls

The group therapy sessions were a failure
In December, Vancouver’s Said the Whale took home a Bucky Award in the category of Most Canadian Song for the tune “Emerad Lake, AB.” A joyous romp about lake hunting on a summer’s day, it begins with jazzy, syncopated verses and a pared-down chorus of “What a fine life we are living.” This refrain eventually explodes, with thundering drums and droning horns propelling it to a euphoric conclusion.

I recently caught up with songwriter Tyler Bancroft, who explained how the funk rock outfit Hey Ocean! inspired “Emerald Lake, AB.”

CH: Where and when was the song written?
TB: Written in my bedroom just a few days after getting home from a summer tour with our friends Hey Ocean in 2008.

CH: What inspired the lyrics?
TB: The aforementioned summer tour with friends Hey Ocean was the inspiration for the song—that and the overwhelming feeling of peace and happiness that comes along with travelling in a van with a group of amazing friends, playing music, and just enjoying life in general.

CH: The first verse mentions the names Jimmy and Dave. Who are they?
TB: Jimmy was the nickname given to Hey Ocean drummer at the time, Dan Klenner. Dave could be either the bass player [Dave Vertesi] or guitar player [David Beckingham] of Hey Ocean.

MP3: “Emerald Lake, AB”
 
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A Christmas gift from Said the Whale

Said the Whale
It just wouldn’t be Christmas without a holiday EP from Said the Whale. Each year since forming in 2007, the Vancouver band has released a new installment in its West Coast Christmas series, featuring songs that dwell on the gloom and rain of December in Vancouver. This year is no exception, as the band has issued two new songs that draw on the usual anti-Christmas themes of greed, cold and darkness.

“Wanting Like Veruca” exhibits more of the stylistic breadth that the band showed off on this year’s Islands Disappear, making a foray into dramatic emo pop. A thundering, distorted waltz, it sounds nothing like the band has ever done before. Halfway through, it suddenly changes time signatures, transforming into a moody, syncopated dance groove with harmonized guitar leads. Next, it briefly shifts into a barn-burning country stomp before returning to the original rhythm. The lyrics are similarly difficult to pin down, mixing complaints about the weather (“It’s cold as fuck,” “The chappedest lips”) with comforting nostalgia (“My mother’s meals”). It’s a strange and ambitious song, but it still offers the usual hooks you expect from Said the Whale, especially during the “They want, they want, they want” refrain.

Impressive as it is, the real treat here is “The Weight of the Season,” a Ben Worcester-fronted ballad about the bleak loneliness of December. It’s familiar territory for Worcester (he also penned the single “This Winter I Retire”), and this home recording is haunting in its sparse reverence. Featuring nothing other than layered vocals and chilly guitars, its gentle melody makes the sombre lyrics seem almost hopeful.

MP3: “The Weight of the Season”

Download West Coast Christmas 2009 from the band’s website, complete with digital liner notes and lyrics. Also be sure to check out the 2007 and 2008 installments.
 
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Said the Whale @ St. James Hall, 11/25/09

Said the Whale @ St. James Hall, 11/25/09
Last Wednesday, Said the Whale held a hometown release party for their outstanding new album, Islands Disappear. I’ve already covered two of the group’s concerts this year (here and here), so I won’t be posting a detailed review of the show.

Of course, it is worth mentioning that the performance was more of the usual awesomeness from the Vancouver quintet. Standouts from the set included a barn-burning medley of “Holly, Ontario” and “Dear Elkhorn,” as well as an acoustic (sans-microphone) version of “Curse of the Currents” that was downright chilling. Another highlight occurred when singer/guitarist Ben Worcester tossed a dozen Tom Hortons donuts into the crowd, yelling, “All the tall people get donuts!”

Here’s a gallery of photos from the event, courtesy of Leigh Eldridge. Check out more of her work here.

Said the Whale Said the Whale Said the Whale
Said the Whale Said the Whale Said the Whale
Said the Whale Said the Whale Said the Whale

 
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Said the Whale teams up with Shad

Said the Whale
Said the Whale is officially kicking ass, with the new album Islands Disappear spending all of last week in the top 10 on iTunes. This success is well deserved, since the album is one of best of the year so far, local or otherwise.

Barely a week after the release of the album, another new Said the Whale recording has hit the ‘net. This time, however, it’s a far cry from the shimmering indie pop that the group is usually known for. Instead, the new tune is a rap/rock crossover, based on the sugary folk pop gem “Gentleman.” The mashup begins with a keyboard riff from “Lovely Allen” by Holy Fuck, which is overlayed with “Time to Pretend” by MGMT. Soon, the band enters, singing the chorus of “Gentleman” over a pounding chord progression lifted from “Baba O’Riley.”

The real treat comes at the thirty second mark, when London, Ontario rapper Shad enters, offering a charmingly romantic verse that matches the sentiment of the original song. His verse lasts under a minute, but it features plenty of memorable tongue twisters, most notably “I’m trying to buy you a swimming pool with an inner tube in it and an entire Ikea living room.”

The track ends with a reprise of the “Gentleman” chorus, with snippets of a few other Said the Whale songs also slipping into the mix (I caught “Love Is Art” and “Strong Swimmers” from The Magician EP).

mp3: “Gentleman Remix” (feat. Shad)

Be sure to check out Islands Disappear, out now via Hidden Pony.
 
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Said the Whale offers eclectic Canadiana

Said the Whale - Islands Disappear
Earlier this year, Said the Whale released The Magician EP, a vinyl-only 7″ that featured the ebullient power pop single “Camilo (The Magician)” plus three unreleased tracks. Although it was essentially an outtakes collection, it showed that the band had made massive leaps in both songwriting and production. Each of the four songs sounded completely different, but each stylistic foray was equally gripping.

mp3: “Camilo (The Magician)”

Islands Disappear, the band’s second full-length, is similarly impressive, although on a much larger scale. No two tracks sound alike, but every one of the thirteen songs is a keeper, worthy of playlist inclusion. The title track is a creepy Tom Waits-style waltz, its junkyard arrangement laced with clattering percussion and chilling horns. “Gentleman” is bubblegum folk pop, shamelessly hokey but completely endearing (the second verse begins “I am an uncool Canadian kid / Awed and inspired by all the popular guys”). Most eclectic of all is “Goodnight Moon,” which begins as a ukulele/glockenspiel lullaby before exploding into a euphoric coda of “bap bap ba” vocals with a rhythm copped from “Lust for Life.”

Part of the reason for the album’s variety is that the band’s two singer-songwriters, Tyler Bancroft and Ben Worcester, have such distinct styles. Bancroft typically favours upbeat pop rock, while Worcester usually sticks to mellow, folksy material; unlike some bands with dual songwriters, with Said the Whale it’s always immediately obvious who wrote what. But despite this, the two singers are unified by their lyrics, which are abounding in geographical place names and detail-rich Canadiana. This includes tributes to the band’s hometown of Vancouver (“Black Day in December,” “False Creek Change”) as well as songs inspired by the band’s numerous cross-Canadian tours (“Emerald Lake, AB,” “Holly, Ontario”). Perhaps the greatest thematic statement of all is “Out on the Shield,” a description of the drudgery of life in a former gold rush town that could describe countless cities across the country.

While the sunny melodies and lush arrangements mean that Islands Disappear is an immediately enjoyable listen, it’s the lyrics that ensure its replay value. It’s easily one of the best albums of the year, and if there’s any justice in the music industry (which there isn’t, but here’s hoping), it will be the boost that Said the Whale needs to move from regional buzz band-status to the upper echelons of Canadian indie rock.

Islands Disappear is due out October 13 via Hidden Pony.
 
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