Vancouver-based alt-rock outfit Whitbeck, led by award-winning guitarist, vocalist, and producer Greg Whitbeck released their debut album, January 22, a few days ago.
Greg explains, “‘January 22’ is our 1st full-length album and also the 3rd single and video from the record. The song itself is about the paradox of hope and renewal vs defeat and resignation against a backdrop of the beautiful, shining port city of Vancouver, Canada. Mixed and produced later, it was written and recorded in the cabin of my 27’ Albin Vega sailboat I lived on at the time, and all the vocal and guitar tracks are the originals from those Shelter Island Sessions.”
Whitbeck live features Greg Whitbeck (vocals, guitars, piano), Sean Dillon (guitars, backing vocals), Mario Loubert (bass, backing vocals), and Shiraz Mohammed (drums). The band’s sound merges savors of ‘90s alternative and grunge with flavors of classic rock and contemporary indie rock.
Encompassing a dozen tracks, entry points include “West Coast Love Song,” featuring Susana Williams, a song examining the Canadian residential school system – more than 150,000 children from indigenous communities were forcibly taken from their parents by the government.
“West Coast Love Song” opens on spectral guitars riding a powerful rhythm. Greg’s evocative voice fills the lyrics with haunting timbres, while Susana’s ethereal tones imbue the tune with ghostly tendrils.
Talking about the song, Greg says, “‘West Coast Love Song’ is one of the darkest songs I’ve ever written, and one thing I’ve written about plenty is the blackness. It features the incredible Susana Williams’ vocals as well as her appearance in the video and an incredible cameo of her walking out of the ocean onto the beach outside her home on Sunshine Coast, Canada. Far from a love song, it has morphed from a lament of loss and sorrow in the deep green of west coast cedar shadows and pacific waves gloaming to a sad, yet eerie and perhaps even violent yarn about a chilling demise. Though not affiliated, we dedicate it to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls of Canada.”
The title track travels on gleaming, trickling guitars topped by Greg’s deep tenor. As the thumping kick-drum enters, the harmonics evolve to dazzling washes of guitars, intertwining. “Just A Little,” vaguely reminiscent of The Killers, throbs with potent layers of guitars tinted with remote hints of new wave dynamics.
“Cinema,” another heavy alt-rock number, features a growling wall of guitars and deliciously tight, singular percussion from Shiraz Mohammed. Hefty and raw, “Pieces” rides a propelling rhythm topped by grinding, thick guitars as Greg’s vocals infuse the lyrics with dark textures.
The final two tracks, “What In The World” and “In Other Words,” are excellent, although totally different in mood and feel.
Whitbeck has it going on! January 22 delivers superb alt-rock, flavored with hints of Linkin Park, The Killers, and Alice In Chains. This is a grand album, one not to be missed.