A few months ago, I watched Whitney amble admirably through a majority of the tracks off of their debut Light Upon the Lake to a midday beer festival crowd in Columbus, OH. The album had already gotten a ton of hype from the blogosphere/Pitchfork/etc…, so it was a bit strange to see them scheduled so early in the day. In hindsight, though, it makes perfect sense.
Light Upon the Lake is the Laurel Canyon and Ventura Highway by way of Chicago’s suburbs. Whitney formed from the ashes of the Smith Westerns, and while their glammy garage racket would never be confused with, say, Flipper, there was some punk undercurrent bubbling below the surface. That’s now long gone, and it’s for the better. Whitney is, for lack of a better term, dad rock. And that’s the entire reason they’ve found such success. Maybe that’s because a majority of the Napster generation are mothers and fathers now. I can still occasionally throw on Converge and recall my teenage angst. Other days, after conference calls and investment meetings and other vaguely adultish shit, I’m glad to shut off and bliss out to, you know, pleasant music on the ride home. And that’s exactly what Whitney is: songs you can sway along to in the mid afternoon at a music festival. Sunshine rock. My girlfriend doesn’t know what the hell Best New Music means, but she’s glad when “Golden Days” comes on during a roadtrip.
Twin Peaks, on the other hand, just put out the album I feel like the Smith Westerns were always striving for. There is a slight (very slight) edge to things. But all of those distorted guitars are still playing major chords, and there’s a lot more going on around them then typical garage rock: the brass in “Cold Lips”, the Clemonsesque sax in “Keep it Together”, and the swinging piano rhythm of “Getting Better” are just a few examples. There’s enough nods to the 60’s and 70’s here to betray the fact that none of the band’s members are past college age yet.
Stereogum pretty much nailed it with this headline and the phrase “triumphantly choogle”. The internet certainly hasn’t done away with presumption. Quite the opposite, of course. But it has certainly made it possible to explore the gray areas around the Americas and the Eagles of the world with fewer repercussions than there would have been if this happened when rock and roll was saving us all (whoops!) in the mid-90’s. I, for one, am glad there are bands finally dipping their toes into these particular waters.