There are those bands that fall easily and comfortably, but unremarkably, onto the vast plains of the alt-country genre. Add the bend of a pedal steel and sing about love, loss, and the plight of the common man, and that iTunes classification is as good as done. While San Franciscos Or, the Whale could hastily be shoved on the shelf next to the volumes of the inoffensive Americana at first encounter (the sepia-toned press photos, the wavery steel infusion), it would be a mistake to write them off as such. With a more dynamic sound than the standard roots fare, elements of indie rock, solid arrangements, and soaring male-female harmonies help set themat least a few stepsapart from the pack. With the Maldives and Band of Annuals. AJA PECKNOLD
Listen to a sample of Or, the Whale's "Call and Response."
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