Whitbeck’s January 22 is One for the Record Books
Never let it be said, that keyboards—less pianos, although the right type of pianos certainly get the point across—have no place in rock, or in full-fledged bands.
Anyone of such an opinion will be swiftly dissuaded by just the first track on Whitbeck’s latest album, the brilliant January 22, which just so happened to hit the masses on April 15th.
The piano playing on this collection is exceptional, but never more so than on the opening tune “West Coast Love Song”, on which the title alone tells you the four-piece band is working with something. The piano on this one could be cooked up, freebased, snorted or mainlined straight into your system it’s so potent, eerie, enigmatic and perfect.
Plus, you’ve got Mario Loubert grooving on some kind of distorted bass line which, in conjunction with the mid-paced, deliberate beat provided by Shiraz Mohammed on the drums, would send any sort of emcee straight into the sound booth, rhyme book or not (more than likely) in hand, to come with bar after bar on this sonic bliss.
They switch things up, of course, during the verses and the hook, with more conventional music and less rap beats, but the foresaid combination returns over and over again on this one, proving it’s a winner indeed.
Not to be outdone, the synth work on “ADD” is equally compelling. Well, maybe not equally, but it’s definitely working things out and leading the way for the rest of the instruments—and the vocals, mind you, manned by Greg Whitbeck when he’s not tickling the ivories (or perhaps when he is) on a rousing, up-tempo, 2 minute track.
However, it’s not until the album gets to the titular work that the band reveals its full hand—which is nothing but aces. My man Sean Dillon is going to town on at least a pair of guitar tracks, one an easy, floating electric guitar rife with effects, the other a staccato sort of rhythm variety, both of which heavily intertwine for a heady outcome.
The high hats are fat and racing, and the drum pattern (laden with kicks without a snare, if you can believe that) is illustrative of the uniqueness of the number. The song gleams like afternoon sunlight, Dave wails away in the booth, and at this point you become sure this album is something special.