Whale|Horse - Count the Electric Sheep (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Count the Electric Sheep (2007)

Suburban Home

Let's be frank: Naming your band Whale|Horse isn't going to make anyone knock on your front door to hear your music. It's certainly not a name that would entice me to listen to a band's music, but luckily for me, and in turn, all of you, Count the Electric Sheep was sent to me, so there was no decision process involved.

How about another frank statement? You're going to like this band. You're going to like them a lot.

The main reason I'm confident in making that statement is vocalist Dan Hanaway. The deep and powerful baritone that Hanaway contributes to the rollicking rhythms in the EP's six songs could not be a better fit. His voice cascades perfectly atop the jangly chord progressions in "Chinese Lightning," and it powers the off-kilter approach in "While You Were Sleeping." No matter the rhythm and no matter the volume, Hanaway is able to project perfectly and make himself the centerpiece. There's a veritable swagger evident in his voice, and "While You Were Sleeping" brings it to the forefront.

The discordant riffing has a real bounce and energy to it, a perfect combination for Hanaway's vocal stylings. His punchy delivery speeds the track up even more, but he sounds just as at home against more low-key instrumentation.

The title track is a slower effort than most on the album, and it still manages to showcase the power in the vocals. The almost ethereal stone of the guitars sets the stage for Hanaway to croon over the rhythm, a task that affords him opportunity to display his vocal range. Drawing out many of his vowels, the Whale|Horse singer coasts in top of the dreamy instrumentation, stopping only towards the end when the rest of the band explodes in a distorted frenzy that ceases just before the song peaks and cuts out.

A terrific debut for this Chicago quartet, a debut that finds them with the wind of Lake Michigan at their back and the world at their feet.