Album Review: House Of Whales – “House Of Whales”
House of Whales, previously called Treehouse, is a 3-piece band from Chicago that blends punk and hip hop stylings. This trio is emcee Rico Sisney, bassist Mike Ruby, and drummer Aunnoy Badruzzaman. On August 25th, 2014, House of Whales released their self-titled debut album. The 10-track album has live instrumentation that’s driven by grungy, growling strings, hard-hitting, boom bap drums, and energetic, spoken word lyricism. Bouncing between various emotions, their music often contains political and social commentary, thought-provoking subject matter, and reflective songwriting, which makes for good variety, and easy to listen to/digest. While this isn’t a full, track-by-track review, I’m going to touch base on some of my favorite songs below. Afterwards stream and purchase the album, if you dig it.
“Who’s Gonna Answer?” is an anti-government and anti-corporate activism track. I love the revving, feel-it-in-your-chest guitar, crashing cymbals, and the fiery delivery in the lyrics that demand to be answered. Such a dope opener for the album.
“Sweather” is a less serious, kind of funny track about the process of songwriting, that’s set up as a back-and-forth conversation between Rico and a distorted voice (like a bootleg Quasimoto) acting as a music critic. I feel like a lot of creatives–not just musicians–can relate to this song. I dig all the pop culture references, such as Dr. Strange, I Love Lucy, Mortal Kombat, DC Universe, and Pokemon can be found in it.
“Long Distance” finds Rico battling with his head and heart in regards holding on, and staying committed, to a long distance relationship. I really connect with the introspective storytelling, the buildup in the beat and verse delivery, and the general somber tone heard throughout the chorus (“I told myself that I would wait right here for you“), the gentle guitars, and the dragging violin that highlights the beat beautifully.
“The Newsfeed” is a cool, relevant track about our generation actively choosing to get their news through alternative sources (social media, blogs, etc), digging around glorified rumor mills and disinformation for truth, all to avoid being force-fed lies, poisonous ideas, and watered-down information by corporate media.
“Mark My Words” draws me in with its warm, atmospheric arrangement of strings, and Rico’s thoughtful, lyrically-driven words of preparation for what’s to come, determination to push through any struggles, and keeping an optimistic mind-frame at all times, whether it’s the rise or the fall. The ending surprised me in a good way, when suddenly a woman’s voice joined in to sing of losing.
Overall, it’s a really great album, and House of Whales is incredibly refreshing to me! I got put onto this album today, after hearing their “The Newsfeed” single”, and felt inclined to stream the rest of the album and write about it a little. Give it a listen below, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. There wasn’t one thing I didn’t like about it, so it gets a 5/5 from me.