Posts Tagged ‘Max Kakacek’

The Chicago euphoric country soul outfit return to pay homage to Labi Siffre, Brian Eno, John Denver, Kelela & others. Whitney was born from a series of laidback early-morning song-writing sessions during one of the harshest winters in Chicago history, after Julien Ehrlich and Max Kakacek (former members of Smith Westerns) reconnected – first as roommates splitting rent in a small Chicago apartment and later as musical collaborators passing the guitar and the lyrics sheet back and forth. 

Back in February we got the whole band together in Chicago with the idea of recording 2-3 covers to share throughout 2020. Those 2-3 tracks turned into a 10 song cover album called “Candid” out August 14th. Along with this announcement we’re releasing our cover of “Hammond Song” By The Roches. We hope you enjoy it. Stay safe and please continue to remain active and committed to the Black Lives Matter Movement.

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Covers have long been an integral part of Whitney’s ethos. Ever since the band first formed in 2014, tackling songs by the Everly Brothers, Allen Toussaint, and more played an important part in the 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. ​Ca​ndid​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. 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.  Whitney has brought their cinematic sound to The Roches’ “Hammond Song.” Whitney’s sound can best be described by the feeling of nostalgia. It makes you long for that one summer and for a sun-drenched drive. If you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing the beautiful harmonies of the original song, be sure to check it out as well!/

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.

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.

Releases August 14th, 2020

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We still can’t get enough of Whitney‘s debut, Light Upon the Lake – it’s the perfect record for any season, mood, or time of day. It’s rarely left the turntable since it came out back in 2016, and since then we’ve found more ways to fall in love with it. So we’re excited to announce that the Light Upon the Lake: Demo Recordings, which was set for a November 10th release. We’ve also got a previously unreleased track, “You and Me,” to share with you, too.

Light Upon the Lake, the debut from Whitney, was born from early-morning songwriting sessions during one of the most brutal winters in Chicago’s history. Vocalist/drummer Julien Ehrlich and guitarist Max Kakacek began writing unflinching, honest songs about everything from break-ups to the passing of Ehrlich’s grandfather. The pair leaned on one another for both honest critique and a sounding board for working through their newly-discovered truths.

The brief, intense period of creativity for the band yielded Light Upon the Lake’s exceptional, unfussy combination of soul, breezy Sixties/Seventies rock, and somber heartbreak woven together by hopeful, golden threads. After critical acclaim and nearly nonstop touring since the album’s 2016 release, Ehrlich and Kakacek are going back to their roots for the first time, with the full demos from Light Upon the Lake . After a whirlwind year following the debut, the demos offer a way for listeners to get a glimpse into the very beginning of Whitney’s sound.

“After almost two years of non-stop touring we decided we wanted to close the chapter on Light Upon the Lake by releasing the songs in their earliest incarnations alongside a cover of a band favorite by Allen Toussaint, and an unreleased track called ‘You and Me.’ We’re looking towards LP2 as we finish out the year on the road.” – Love, Max and Julien.

Whitney “You and Me” from Light Upon The Lake: Demo Recordings out November 10th on Secretly Canadian

Whitney are releasing a new 7″ single to celebrate their upcoming sold-out, four-night hometown run at Chicago’s Thalia Hall. One side is “F.T.A.,” an alternate version of the title track from this year’s terrific “Forever Turned Around”, with a cover of Wilco’s “Far, Far Away” on the flip.

Whitney was born from a series of laidback early-morning songwriting sessions during one of the harshest winters in Chicago history, after Julien Ehrlich and Max Kakacek (former members of Smith Westerns) reconnected – first as roommates splitting rent in a small Chicago apartment and later as musical collaborators passing the guitar and the lyrics sheet back and forth. 

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released November 22nd, 2019

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Whitney was born from a series of laidback early-morning songwriting sessions during one of the harshest winters in Chicago. after Julien Ehrlich and Max Kakacek (former members of Smith Westerns) reconnected – first as roommates splitting rent in a small Chicago apartment and later as musical collaborators passing the guitar and the lyrics sheet back and forth.

Whitney have shared another new song from their forthcoming album “Forever Turned Around”, which is out August 30th via Secretly Canadian. It’s called “Valleys (My Love)” and arrives with a new music video from Kamp Grizzly. Directed by Nick Woytuk, it follows a truck driver. Watch it below.

Whitney’s sophomore album features production from Brad Cook (Bon Iver, Hand Habits) and Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado (who’s worked with Weyes Blood and Father John Misty). The new single follows “Giving Up.”

Whitney are performing later this year’s at Green Man Festival Brecon Beacons, UK

“Valleys (My Love)” from Forever Turned Around, the new album from Whitney, out August 30th, 2019 on Secretly Canadian

Whitney (Photo by Olivia Bee).

Whitney have announced their new record “Forever Turned Around”. It’s out August 30th via Secretly Canadian. They’ve also shared “Giving Up” from the LP. Listen below.

Forever Turned Around follows the band’s debut, 2016’s Light Upon the Lake. The new album features production from Brad Cook (Bon Iver, Hand Habits) and Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado (who’s worked with Weyes Blood and Father John Misty). Whitney shared “FTA” earlier this month along with a Josiah Marshall-directed video.

Last year, the Chicago duo shared an album of Light Upon the Lake demo recordings, which included the previously unreleased tracks “You and Me” and a cover of Allen Toussaint’s “Southern Nights.”

Whitney (Julien Ehrlich and Max Kakacek) Forever Turned Aroundis due out August 30th via Secretly Canadian.

Forever Turned Around is Whitney’s second album, the follow-up to 2016’s debut album, this week they also shared a teaser video entitled “FTA,” which we now know stands for Forever Turned Around (the phrase “forever turned around” was repeated towards the end of the video). At one point they reunited with original rhythm guitarist Ziyad Asrar in his basement studio in Chicago, which is where much of Light Upon the Lake came together. Chicago musicians Lia Kohland and OHMME’s Macie Stewart contribute strings to the album.

Whitney’s live band also features keyboardist Malcolm Brow, guitarist Print Chouteau, bassist Josiah Marshall, and trumpeter Will Miller, with Asrar also returning to the live band.

A press release describes Forever Turned Around this way: “On the follow up to their much-beloved debut, 2016’s Light Upon the Lake, Ehrlich and Kakacek grapple with the anxiety and acceptance that time is limited and navigate questions of mortality, doubt, love, and friendship. It’s an album about partnership – romantic, familial, and communal, but most importantly a love in friendship: the bonds between two best friends and creative partners and the joy and stress that comes with it.”

“Giving Up” is described in the press release as “a heart-rending and relatable song about the ups and downs of long-term relationships.”

“Giving Up” from ‘Forever Turned Around’ by Whitney, out 8/30 on Secretly Canadian.

Max Kakacek and Julien Ehrlich, Whitney’s songwriting duo, have been preparing to release their debut album since shortly after their last band, the Smith Westerns, split in 2014. When writing songs together, Kakacek and Ehrlich developed a persona: Whitney is a lonely guy who drinks too much and lives alone. It was probably a pretty easy idea to embody. Both Max and Julien are quick to admit that the songs for Light Upon the Lake were written in the midst of consecutive breakups. They felt a little bit like Whitney, so they built this as a bit of a concept album.

But, the weird thing about labeling this record as a breakup album is that it’s both accurate and—paradoxically—widely off base. It’s not angsty, or hastily prepared in a few drunken nights off of some fit of red-eyed nostalgia. Sure, literally speaking all of the songs off of Light Upon the Lake conjures up failure to maintain a relationship with a loved one, but how can you relate a new band’s debut record—and one that’s so so fully realized to the point of even having a mission statement in the Whitney, as a man, as a writing prompt and concept.

Is it too early for millennials to wax nostalgic about their golden days? Sounding like the Flying Burrito Brothers guesting on The Muppet Show, this debut from a pair of indie-rock refugees (Ehrlich from Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Kakacek from Smith Westerns) reminisces over a crumbled relationship with warmly generous lyrics to match the summery strum of the music.

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Light Upon The Lake has slowly become one of my favorites in 2016.

The falsetto that Julian Ehrlich sings in. Normally, that’s a deal breaker for me as well but after a few listens of No Woman, I started to feel the interesting beauty that came with Erlich’s falsetto and the wonderful guitar playing of Max Kakacek (he of Smith Westerns fame). Then they released Golden Days when announcing the album and I was hooked. A few weeks later I received the full album and I haven’t been able to stop praising it since.

Ehrlich and Kakacek wrote this album after they each went though breakups. But labeling this as a breakup album would be wrong in my opinion. To me, it is more about two buddies helping each other during a tough time. They holed up in a Chicago apartment, writing the songs together; Whitney becoming their shared identity. Says Kakacek, “We were both writing as this one character, and whenever we were stuck, we’d ask, ‘What would Whitney do in this situation?’”

The next step up in their evolution was making the trek out to record with Jonathan Rado, sleeping in him backyard for weeks. Together with the help of some other talented musicians, they crafted a wonderful album of lo-fi country soul. It captures a period in their life in a way that combines the wistfulness of youth with the burdens of becoming an adult.

Formed out of the dissolution of personal and professional bonds, Max Kakacek and Julien Ehrlich’s new project is a transmission of inner rapids—and their first full-length, Light Upon the Lake, is a postcard from the calm on the other side.

The primary contradiction of Light Upon the Lake, the debut LP from Whitney, is this: how can music so strongly rooted in melancholy make you feel so glad to be alive? It’s a strange platter—and to be sure, Whitney’s kind of a strange band (just take a look at their introductory portraits on Instagram if you really want to, uh, get to know them). But in talking to Max Kakacek and Julien Ehrlich, the songwriting duo at the forefront of the group, it becomes clear that there’s an explanation for every contradiction—a key to every song.