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Wig out with The Whigs

Air-drumming and air-guitaring is highly probable when listening to The Whigs new album.

Daniel Macri

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If you’re a band from Athens, Ga., carrying the musical torch may be a daunting task, considering the likes of R.E.M. and The B-52’s have originated from there. But for the Athens trio, The Whigs, it proves to be a motivator after releasing their second album, “Mission Control,” on Dave Matthew’s pro-artist ATO record label.

Though it’s not as ambitious as their garage-yet-melodic, 60s-pop-styled debut “Give ‘Em All a Big Fat Lip,” the catchy, riff-friendly “Mission Control” is still a very strong sophomore effort.

A far cry, though, is the difference in the recording of these two albums. Rewind to 2005 when bandleader/lead vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Parker Gispert, drummer Julian Dorio, and bassist Hank Sullivant recorded their debut in an empty University of Georgia fraternity house with used equipment bought on Ebay.

Fast forward to their most recent album, with all three graduated, and Sullivant replaced by bassist Tim Deaux. This album was recorded at the legendary Hollywood Sunset Sound Studios with help from Rob Schnapf, the producer for Elliot Smith and Beck. The result is sound leaning towards loud, distorted rock using the 60s pop song formula based on catchy hooks and well-written lyrics. This sound is full with each member serving their purpose.

The goal of the trio is to use a more straightforward approach to capture the band’s live show sound without any overdubs or excess production — just good old fashioned rock’n’roll.

This is evident from the urgency of the opener, “Like a Vibration,” where guitars and drums rage out of the chute, setting the tone. Right after Dorio’s drum intro, Gispert’s catchy guitar riffs and Deaux’s dancing bass line lead the way through “Production City.”

Dorio, a great drummer who drums to drive the song, not upstage it, does his best work on “Right Hand on My Heart.” Starting off with Dorio’s catchy drum beat, you can’t help but air-drum with him as he carries it. The rest come in with Gispert singing, “All the fallen leaves have found their branches again/ raindrops in the heavens I’ll eventually swim/ river and ocean a wave in my heart/ we got your money now I’ll make a new start.” It’s catchy, well-written, and a soon-to-be-anthem.

Giving “Right Hand on My Heart” a run for its money is “1,000 Wives.” The song starts off slowly with a chugging riff and lazy singing by Gispert, and then builds with Dorio’s great drumming providing the backing to a great chorus. The last minute is an alt-country type jam with Gispert pouring his heart out.

The album continues with rockers “Hot Bed,” “Already Young,” before reaching the hardest rocking track on here, “Need You Need You.” Jumping off the speakers with a punkish riff, Gilspert wails then screams and Dorio drives the beat hard. This would be an ideal closing track ending the album as it started, hard. Instead, the next song, the spacey, title-track and perhaps the weakest one on the album, closes.

With “Mission Control,” The Whigs have a consistent 11 track album with little filler, perhaps because the majority of the songs are in the three minute range. Versatility is shown, but not to the extent their debut album had and that would be its biggest fault.

However, the 60s-pop formula works excellently with their simpler rock sound, relying on riffs while containing remarkably catchy, well-written and memorable choruses; it’s an album definitely worth listening to, especially if you love to air-guitar, not to mention air-drum to.

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