Bringing back both the ethos of early 70s singer-songwriters and the roots of backwoods rock, Whitney is a new band with a vintage sound. Max Kakacek and Julien Ehrlich (who also played in Unknown Mortal Orchestra) founded Whitney in 2014 after the breakup of their previous band, the Chicago indie rock stalwarts Smith Westerns. Guitarist Kakacek and drummer/vocalist Ehrlich became roommates and musical collaborators, setting to work on a project that became their debut record Light Upon the Lake. Written in the depths of a freezing Chicago winter, the eventual product fuses indie rock with alt-country, and was produced by Jonathan Rado of Foxygen and the band members at his house in sunny LA.
Rado’s trademark 60s/70s influence is evident on this comfy, laid-back record, which feels like an old favorite on the first listen. Songs like “No Matter Where We Go” provide exuberant indie rock overtones, while more somber cuts like “No Woman” showcase the band’s songwriting talent in a more serious realm. Warm guitars, bright horns, and cool keys pepper the album across the full spectrum of moods. Ehrlich’s powerful but smooth voice, somewhere between a falsetto and a belting tenor, shines over the accompaniment.
Even though both of Whitney’s shows are sold out at Great Scott on Sunday, October 9 at 7:30 and 10:30 pm, expect some great guitar work, rock-solid drumming, and maybe even a horn section, in a low-key atmosphere. Whitney’s warm, comfy sound translates very well to a live setting, especially at an intimate venue like Great Scott.