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The Whispering Pines


Description:

5pm: The Shadow Mountain Band 8pm WHISPERING PINES

February 16, 2013

Whispering Pines is a five piece cosmic California boogie band that

sounds as though it was lifted straight out of the Laurel Canyon music

scene that overtook the City of Angels in the late 1960’s…

with a little Allman-style southern soul tossed in for good measure. If

the musical homage to the sounds of the past isn’t clue enough to where

this band is coming from, their name is lifted straight from

a classic track by The Band. On their debut album, Family Tree,

Whispering Pines plow through nine groove-filled tunes. All the while,

they create a fresh sound by paying solid homage to the past. The

lazy slide guitar of the album opening title track gives way to the

swampy CCR shuffle of “Brand New Beat” and continues to impress all the

way through to the album closing “Songbird,” with it's CSNYstyle

harmonies. If the whole thing sounds well-aged and worn, that’s because

the whole thing was recorded with vintage 1970’s equipment in Elliott

Smith’s Van Nuys, CA studio.

Listening to Whispering Pines’ self-titled sophomore album from start to

finish is like stumbling onto a late-night broadcast from an FM station

that’s been lost in the ozone for 40-odd years, just reaching human

ears for the first time. The five-man band might hail from California,

but their sound has more to do with a time than a place – and a grand

time, at that.

“Move On” ushers Whispering Pines in

with David Burden’s bluesy harp growlin’ and a’whinin’ over top of

David Baine’s ominous swamp keys. A no-nonsense burst of guitar from Joe

Bourdet clears the way for drummer Joe Zabielski and bassist Brian

Filosa to come slamming in. The first couple of verses are bad-boy

swagger – “Not the man your Daddy wanted/Not the boy your Momma needed” –

launching into a rip-snorting rave-up that recalls The Yardbirds at

their raunchiest. Back to a final verse and chorus (“You know this ain’t

the first time/I know this ain’t the last time”) and – wham! –

they’re outta there; mission accomplished in 3:26. (With the promise of

some serious jammed-out plaster shaking if they’d had a mind to.) Darn

tootin’.

Let Whispering Pines spin

and breathe it in: “One More Second Chance” feels like a

slightly-crunchier-but-just-as-happy Lovin’ Spoonful. So does “Fine

Time”, before taking the doors off the hinges with a “Midnight

Rambler”-style blow-out at the end. The just-right-but-not-too-slick

harmonies of “Love Is Free” (think Megafaun) are fun all by themselves;

the driving percussion that propels the song’s middle section is a

Manassas-flavored bonus. And “Broken Spoke” – lovely bits of mando,

harp, and acoustic guitar woven betwixt sing-along choruses – could’ve

closed out the Ronnie Lane/Pete Townshend Rough Mix album proudly.

The quintet repeatedly pulls off that same sort of “Wait – how’d we get here? ”

sonic shape-shifting that makes Goose Creek Symphony’s music so

appealing. Put an ear to “Come&Play”: after a couple of powerful

opening chords that sweetly reek of the summer of 1970, the band settles

into a downhome dangling-legs-off-a-pickup’s-tailgate groove. After a

verse of rubbery bass dancing in the hay with bits of smiling mouth

harp, there’s a pause; the rhythm hovers as the blue sky overhead morphs

into psychedelic swirls of color … sheeeeeit! The

barnyard becomes the Fillmore East as the keys lock in with the bass and

drums to pound out a tension-filled foundation for some beautifully

apeshit guitar to ricochet off of. A spiral of sound – a pause – a

breath … and the sky turns blue again and the chickens mutter to

themselves as they peck in the dirt. You’ll smile while looking back

over your shoulder, wondering “What just happened …?” In the nicest of

ways.

There are numerous familiar essences throughout Whispering Pines, but no direct quotes. The music is theirs, through and through.

Whispering Pines just happens to know what you like.

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