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Artist
Whitney
ReleaseProduct
Candid
Label
Secretly Canadian
Catalogue Number
SC409digital
Release Date
August 14, 2020

Genres

Press Release

Covers have long been an integral part of Whitney's ethos. Ever since the band first formed in a Chicago apartment in 2014, tackling songs by the Everly Brothers, Allen Toussaint, and more played an important part in the songwriting process for their breakthrough 2016 debut Light Upon The Lake . Since then, their takes on NRBQ's "Magnet" and Neil Young's "On the Way Home" have become live staples, an essential and communal part of their sets. Their love for the music that makes up their deepest influences has always been genuine and tangible. Following their acclaimed sophomore 2019 album Forever Turned Around , Whitney have decided to return with a loving tribute to songs that have been formative and lasting to the entire band. Candid is a 10-song collection boasting covers of artists like Kelela, David Byrne, John Denver, SWV , and others but it's also a band challenging themselves to explore more than their musical comfort zone. "This could've been as simple as saying we really love these songs and we love our bandmates and making a covers record just felt right but it truly became an exploration into how we can evolve as a band going forward,” says drummer and singer Julien Ehrlich. Recorded in January and February of 2020 over multiple sessions at Treehouse Studios in Chicago and Flora Recording and Playback in Portland , Candid f inally sees the full touring band in a recording studio together. " This is the first time we really saw what the live iteration of Whitney sounds like in a studio. It was a really celebratory vibe and everyone in the room fed off each other's energy," says guitarist Max Kakacek. It's the band's best reflection so far of their triumphant live show as most of these renditions were recorded live. Featuring keyboardist Malcolm Brown, bassist Josiah Marshall, trumpeter Will Miller, as well as guitarists Print Chouteau and Ziyad Asrar, the entire live unit is firing at all cylinders thanks to its tight-knit and road-tested relationship. Their chemistry exudes throughout the tracklist but it's especially apparent when they open up the dynamic to their friends, like Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee joining John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads." On the cover of the classic, Ehrlich and Crutchfield's voices merge for a joyous harmony over the chorus. Over eight days at Treehouse Studios, the band would show up in the morning, learn a song together, and choose an instrument, leading to a freewheeling and adventurous atmosphere. Their renditions of SWV's '90s R&B heater "Rain" or David Byrne and Brian Eno's 2008 track "Strange Overtones" prove this, as they stretch Whitney into new musical directions. "We love these songs and all have an emotional connection to each one, but we really wanted to see if we could take the skeleton of each track and approach it in a way that felt new. We didn't want to recreate what any of these artists already did," says Kakacek. This is most evident on Candid opener "Bank Head," which tackles the sparse and hypnotic electronic single by Kelela. Ehrlich adds, “ It's something we've never done before and probably a direction that we want to explore in our future albums” he continues, “ We knew we couldn't beat these songwriters at their own game. Instead, we wanted to find songs that were great at their core and could be reimagined.” At its core, Candid i s a celebration of both the songs Whitney has adored throughout its formation and the band's evolving bond through years of relentless touring and an enduring friendship. "One thing we realized is how these songwriters could make amazing songs with so much simplicity. Taking these skeletons and working with this incredible material means we're keeping our chops and staying tight as a band," says Ehrlich. The LP is a sincere snapshot of their evolving and eclectic tastes that's imbued with a wholly inviting charm. It's Whitney at their most unvarnished and inventive but most importantly, it's a heartfelt tribute to the songwriters who've helped them most. -Josh Terry May 4, 2020 Chicago, IL

Following their acclaimed sophomore album Forever Turned Around , Whitney have returned with Candid , a 10-song collection boasting covers of artists like Kelela, David Byrne, John Denver, SWV, and more. Covers have always been an integral part of the band’s ethos, with renditions of classics by Allen Toussaint, Dolly Parton, and Neil Young a highlight of their setlists for half of a decade. But for Candid, Whitney decided to challenge themselves, finding their favorite songs that also fell outside of their musical comfort zone. Marking the first time the full touring band was in a recording studio together, they hashed out these covers after a tour over sessions in Chicago and Portland. "This could've been as simple as we really just love these songs and we love our bandmates and making a covers record just felt right but this was a bit of an exercise to see how we can evolve as a band going forward,” says drummer and singer Julien Ehrlich. He adds, “We knew we couldn't beat these songwriters at their own game. Instead, we wanted to find songs that were great at their core and could be molded into our own thing.”

Track-by-track

  1. Bank Head (Kelela) We have a pretty vivid and happy memory of first getting acquainted with that song through our friend Tyler Brooks, the same guy we named "Song For Ty" after, who would make mixes and would come over to our house. To be honest, I think we're the most excited about this cover. It sounds like Whitney evolving a little bit and just doing something that doesn't necessarily come off as jangly or guitar-centric. It's something we've never done before and probably a direction that we want to explore in our future albums.
  2. A.M.:A.M. (Damien Jurado)

We've wanted to cover this song for the longest time. The first time Julien sang this song was in the apartment where we wrote "Giving Up" thinking it'd be a cover we'd add to our rotation. This was the first cover we recorded for Candid. It came together really fast and it was the first time the whole band recorded something live, all to tape. We really tried to inject our own sound into it by adding slide guitar, a trumpet solo, and changing up the chords.

  1. Country Roads ft. Waxahatchee (John Denver) We knew that Katie was destined to sing this with us. We both heard her live and she has this classic country vibe. Once we heard her voice on it, it was pretty much magical. Her contribution is perfect. The second and last chorus where we're all harmonizing sounds awesome. This is kind of a funny story but I think this song is Kevin Morby's first engineering credit because they've been quarantining together he helped her in the mic placements and recording. We're such big fans of him so it's great that he low-key had a hand in one of our records too.

  2. High on a Rocky Ledge (Moondog) We heard this song for the first time at Rainbo Club in Chicago. I saved it in my phone and the next day couldn't stop listening to it. Then during our five night run at Thalia Hall last winter we were all in the green room listening to this song and we all thought, "we love this song. We gotta cover it." It's such a devastating song and Moondog's story is tragic as well. When we first heard it, the track reminded us of a John Cale song. We wanted to give it more of a soulful vibe.

  3. Something Happen (Jack Arel) That's been one of Max's favorite instrumentals. We've been trying to have at least one instrumental on the record—another favorite Fleetwood Mac's "Sunny Side of Heaven" was an option—but we went with this. It was the last night in the studio and we listened to it again and it just seemed like a perfect fit. The original version is slower and we made it a little more peppy. The tempo changes in it were really exciting for us to tackle as a live band. After we finished the final take, we were all sure of it which was really exciting.

  4. Strange Overtones (David Byrne and Brian Eno) I used to have this song as my alarm clock ringtone in high school. It'd play every morning and I never got sick of it. Then as the band started, we'd play it in the van every once in a while on our first tours. That song and "My Big Nurse" from that record were on the rotation. We thought to do it at a soundcheck before a show at SPACE in Evanston this year. The most fun part of recording this was figuring out the solo. Malcolm slayed it on the piano and having him tackle it made so much sense even though this is the first time we've ever had a keys solo on a recorded track. I remember after his take, which killed, he said, "I went into it thinking Bruce Hornsby but I came out of it thinking Bruce Springsteen."

  5. Hammond Song (The Roches) We both discovered this song because Chris Coady sent it to us years ago as a reference for recording when we were making the last Smith Westerns record. It became a song that was always around for us and then we showed it to the rest of the band. This cover is the longest Whitney recording ever and pretty much everything you hear on it is totally live, save for the horns and the slide solo. For a five minute song, if you mess up one part you have to do the whole thing live all over again.

  6. Crying, Laughing, Loving, Lying (Labi Siffre) We've always loved Labi Siffre. He was such a huge influence on Forever Turned Around . It just seems like he was making exactly what he wanted to make when he was regularly releasing music. The vibe is so tangible when you listen to it and it makes you want to do the same thing. His music is contagious and it helped us get through making the last album. We knew that we were doing this song very early on and it always made sense. This is one of our more straightforward covers because every time we tried to mess with it, it got worse so we wanted to be as true to the original as possible. This is the one I hope where if a kid who knows our band hears this and gets into Labi Siffre's catalog, it'll be worth it.

  7. Rain (SWV) My relationship with SWV goes back to my UMO days when I was 19 in the van and listening to "Right Here." I've been obsessed with them since I was a teenager. The song interpolates Jaco Pastorious' "Portrait of Tracy," which is one of my favorite basslines ever. This one was a gamble. Even when we got to the point of jamming it out in the studio, it was harder because the song is so intricate.

  8. Rainbows and Ridges (Blaze Foley) We bought a new tape machine and this was the first thing we recorded on it. With Blaze Foley, he's such an incredible songwriter. Just even reading the lyrics and like saying them over and over again, you start to read deeper meanings and draw connections to the decisions that he made lyrically or maybe even lack of decision making that he had lyrically. With this one, the lyrical takeaways are the biggest thing for me. It's such a good song.

Digital Track List

  1. 1 Bank Head 3:26 Buy
  2. 2 A.M. AM 3:56 Buy
  3. 3 Take Me Home, Country Roads (ft. Waxahatchee) 2:45 Buy

    Take Me Home, Country Roads (ft. Waxahatchee)

  4. 4 High on a Rocky Ledge 3:38 Buy

    High on a Rocky Ledge

  5. 5 Something Happen 1:59 Buy

    Something Happen

  6. 6 Strange Overtones 3:27 Buy

    Strange Overtones

  7. 7 Hammond Song 5:01 Buy
  8. 8 Crying, Laughing, Loving, Lying 3:00 Buy

    Crying, Laughing, Loving, Lying

  9. 9 Rain 3:49 Buy
  10. 10 Rainbows & Ridges 2:19 Buy

    Rainbows & Ridges

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