Whale City by WarmduscherRelease date: June 1, 2018
Label: The Leaf Label
Brace yourselves now boys and girls, Warmduscher‘s new record Whale City has a theme and a story arc making it, gulp, a concept album? Or if not that, at least the soundtrack to some diseased off Broadway road musical. It is joyfully trashy. It’s fast, cheap, it reeks of booze and wants to ponce your cigarettes. Meet Clams Baker – thrill seekin’, fast talkin’, unreliable narrator supreme.
We open on a scene setting interlude as he torches his life and heads out for the mythic Whale City to seek his fortune. Next thing you know he’s ‘Standing On A Corner’ with a gun pointed in his face. Clams seems the type of guy trouble follows around like seagulls behind a trawler. Or maybe they just follow him. He often comes off like a guy who lives in Tompkins Square park testifying to the birds. We should not be believing a word of his ludicrous story, doesn’t seem like he believes even half of it his own self. It’s damn entertaining though.
Warmduscher is a collision of Fat White Family and Paranoid London. Don’t let that put you off neither. They front like a barely capable garage band but there’s a fistful of styles dragged though the grinder for this twisted song cycle. Each one coated in their unique grime and carried off with lopsided élan. Like the 40oz Clams waves at his pigeon congregation it’s a strong and chewy blend. ‘Big Wilma’ is a bracing Fall rumble about an fearsome sounding woman whose wrong side you would want to avoid.
For ‘1000 whispers’ Clams turns to a kind of distorted and degraded soul pleading. On the ludicrous, but amazing, garage disco banger ‘I Got Friends’ he reels off an escalatingly weird list of friends and their superhuman abilities “I know a guy in drop top convertible with a six shooter so strong, he can shoot the top of a mountain off, he can rip it off into the sky” and so on. It’s like Tom Waits on all the crack, you can feel the bars other patrons backing carefully away. ‘Whale City’ itself is a glorious mess of surf guitar, sickly Fall-a-billy and a backing chorus that alternates between “OI!” chants and weird falsetto. It’s probably the only thing I’ve ever heard that might provoke an approving comparison with Sonic Youth’s ‘Master Dik’.
Whale City is, somehow, a real summer record. Bright and brash and fun, full of light despite the weird tales of damaged characters it tells. Appropriately enough then it comes to a close with ‘Summertime Tears’ which finds Clams in the garage, firing up a disused bontempi organ, finally baring his tortured soul over a chilled lounge groove. It’s a touching finale. If at some point this summer you should find yourself, confused and broken, well into the second day of a barbeque that got out of hand, in a stranger’s garden filled with the steaming and the lost, half dressed in one another’s clothes and sticky with improvised cocktails, this would be the perfect record to put on. I’m not saying you should, you understand, but if you do, Clams and the boys have got your back.