The Devil Whale, a Salt Lake City quartet led by singer-songwriter Brinton Jones, is bringing their soulful brand of alternative rock n' roll to Richmond this Thursday at the Camel, and we are all more fortunate for it. Touring behind their most recent full-length, Teeth, The Devil Whale translate that album's high-quality production into the live environment with aplomb, delivering complex, mult-faceted, but always catchy tunes highlighted by Jones's memorable voice, which hits the sweet spot between the sincerity of Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and the virtuosity of the late, great Jeff Buckley. The Devil Whale have a lot to offer to RVA indie rock fans, and any who aren't at the Camel to experience their live performance will be kicking themselves.
“Golden” is a clinic in contrasting textures — the distorted guitar that kicks the song into gear with a fantastic ascending riff set against the shimmering high-frequency synth tones that come in soon afterward, the Rhodes-y keys that form a subtle backbone juxtaposed with arpeggiated guitar notes’ shifting color and shape, verses that breathe comfortably leading into full-sounding choruses. Second track “Indian” shares many of the same qualities, adding a truly exuberant chorus — the kind of display that makes you want to clap along, even when you’re driving and should probably be using your hands to safely operate your motor vehicle.
The terrific Salt Lake City band, The Devil Whale, makes us feel as if we're out there amongst the great wilderness, with no idea about what's gonna happen next. We are drinking out of tin cups and ladles, we're wearing buffalo hides for coats and we're shooting and skinning bears to protect ourselves, sure, but also for the rug that's going to cover the floor of the den in our feeble wooden shack, in the middle of nowhere. Lead singer Brinton Jones has a singing style that brings to mind Jeff Tweedy doing Fleetwood Mac songs, or at least coming close to that mood and that place. He writes in a way that seems to tap into the complexities of what happens when we just want to have things flow evenly.
Teeth is their sophomore effort and in my limited time with it, the band that always springs to mine when listening to them is Dr. Dog. The Devil Whale share the same knack of playing delightful psych-pop smothered in wonderful three piece harmonies.
Those dreamy chords I mentioned hearing from the bar? They belonged to The Devil Whale, a five-piece band from Salt Lake City. Their sound was a blend of folk and beach vibes. Let me try to articulate this. They’ve got these guitar lines that beg me to pack up the car and head over to Cali, but then they’ve also got these moments where they’re just rocking out on their guitars, stomping around the stage, going to town with tambourines, and it reminds me of the music you hear in the countryside ... Everything’s perfect about the stage set-up, right down to the lighting. These guys look like they’re just your everyday guys, up there sharin’ a little music. It’s low-key, welcoming. And my god, their harmonies are so gorgeous.