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Give 'Em All a Big Fat Lip

The Whigs

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Album Review

This 2005 indie release was scooped up and reissued by ATO a year later after Rolling Stone named the Athens, GA trio one of the "Ten Artists to Watch" in April of 2006. It's usually a good sign when a band creates a buzz without major-label money or influence, and that's the case with the Whigs (not to be confused with the Afghan Whigs). With a classy sound somewhere between catchy '60s pop, Gomez-styled bluesy indie rock, and a Southern sensibility, the Whigs' songs are snappy, tight, and free of excess fat. Their secret weapon is the interplay between keyboards and guitar; it's organic and far from slick. A bit of Elvis Costello circa "Pump It Up" drives "OK, Alright," and the raw, unsweetened quality of the music harkens back to punk's early days. Lead singer Parker Gispert's talk/sung vocals, with their natural rasp, are nonchalantly distinctive and grow more engaging as the project unwinds. Despite the rather aggressive title and cover art, there are more midtempo ballads than rockers, and the tone of the disc falls on the melancholy side. The sound is full without being slick. The Whigs prove that they are excellent producers of their own music and have a strong sense of dynamics as instruments enter and exit, staying just long enough for emphasis. Dueling vocals also weave around themselves on the lovely "Say Hello," and even though the lyrics seem to be stream of consciousness, they work well with the often unpredictable music that twists in unexpected but not unnatural directions. "Half a World Away" is a highlight as it features a lurching guitar solo set against a funeral organ and gently throbbing drums. The closing "All My Banks" is an artsy yet unpretentious minor-key piece which, at nearly seven minutes, is also the album's longest track. The horns that augment it expand the sound into new and fascinating directions that the group will hopefully explore more fully with a larger budget on their sophomore release.

Biography

Formed: Athens, GA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Frontman Parker Gispert, drummer Julian Dorio, and bassist Hank Sullivant formed the Whigs in 2002, while the three Athens-based musicians were attending college at the University of Georgia. With a jaunty mix of Westerberg-like swagger, alt-rock songwriting, and a heartfelt country disposition, the Whigs played their first shows around campus and soon graduated to higher-profile performances, including opening slots for the likes of the Killers, Franz Ferdinand, and the Futureheads. Recording sessions...
Full bio
Give 'Em All a Big Fat Lip, The Whigs
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