This Whiskerman article was written by Fraisia Dunn, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse
It’s not hard to imagine the members of Whiskerman, who hail from Oakland, California to be patchouli scented, flair wearing, taking a walk down the beach watching the perfect orange sun set over the mighty Pacific. At best, Whiskerman blend soul, psychedelia, folk and rock to create an interesting, romantic and majestic sound. At times, however, their sound and lyrics are derivative – they sound a bit too much like the bands that they have been influenced by, and haven’t added themselves into the mix.
‘Nomad’ is their second album and progression has been made since their 2011 eponymous album, and the 2013 EP ‘Bad News’.’ Nomad’ has been produced by Jeff Saltzman who has worked with The Killers and Dept. of Eagles and a move towards a bigger, fuller symphonic sound is evident.
The most immediate aspect of Whiskerman is the voice of Graham Patzner. Indeed, several of the tracks on the album start with his almighty wail reminiscent of Bowie, Bolan and Banhart; this man can sing. Backed up by lush strings, keyboard, sitar, synth, drums and bass, the full package is loud and proud.
The first and second tracks are a good introduction to the band,’ Otis’ comes straight in with Patzner’s dreamy voice. A gospel sound builds up with intriguing lyrics that tell us about a man called Otis: “Dancing in the ballroom with vultures in my mouth”, this line shows that Whiskerman are capable of poetry, they are great romantics.
The second song, ‘One Good Way’ is more reminiscent of the soulful country sound explored on their second EP. It starts with a big drum roll and then skips along at a great pace, a tambourine marking time until it rattles off of the end of the song. This track is easy to listen to and gives a good sense of the 70s vibe the band are trying to evoke.
‘Cardinal City’ is the track available on SoundCloud, so the band may be thinking of releasing this as a single. It has that Bowie-esque 70s feel to it, with the gospel vocals and expansiveness, but it does not add anything new to that style of music; it seems a pastiche of the genre rather than an original tune.
The album ends with a series of romance songs; ’Diamond in the Rough’ is a rollicking folk rock number with dancing strings that sweep into a punchy chorus. A great love song. ‘Consistency of Grace’ follows; another squishy song about loving forever, it has lush strings and the female backing singer adds another dimension.
The album is rounded off with ‘Paradise’; pensive moody strings make way for a Pink Floyd-like psychedelic shuffle, complete with moog-like spacey synth sounds. Just as we’re about to switch off, we hear the sitar being tuned and some muffled chat before the sound of the strings tuning up covers this up with cacophony, and we leave Whiskerman to melt back into their tangerine dream.