The first time I heard ‘No Woman’ it nearly knocked me out. Here was a song steeped in America’s West Coast musical history, from ‘Ventura Highway’ to ‘Strawberry Letter 23’, which was powerful enough to stand out a million sunkissed miles even when played live in a crummy dive bar in New York City.
With it Whitney are a revelation, and a far better prospect than people have given them credit for so far. It’s all down to the dynamic: live and on record, drummer Julien Ehrlich is positioned centre-stage playing and singing the lead, and when you see him do it onstage he recalls Stevie Wonder – naturally, it’s not put on – in the way he moves. The smiliest singer this side of Carlotta from Hinds. The rest of the band, who include former Smith Western Max Kakacek, are all on exactly the same level as him too, crowding around in a cacophony of guitars, farfisa organs, trumpets and bass. Everybody locked into each other, everybody laughing as they play. It’s infectious, probably because 99 percent of other bands I see tend to either look at their feet or look like they want to smack you in the head.
But anyway, back to ‘No Woman’. While Whitney’s live ‘vibe’ has been carried over to their recordings, there’s a subdued nature to this song, echoed in the sly little nod to the Visconti-led orchestras on Marc Bolan’s similarly gentile ‘Cosmic Dancer’. Jonathan Rado from Foxygen is reportedly involved with the production, which is a good thing as everything he touches seems to turn to gold at present. ‘No Woman’ is a case in point. It’s a sad, lonely, beautiful, ambitious piece of music, which also just happens to sound like the most perfect song in the world right now.
It’s also just set Whitney up as one of the bands to watch for 2016.
Here’s Julien on writing the track:
“’No Woman’ started to take shape when I woke up on a friends floor one morning. He was taking a shower and the chorus popped into my head while I was grabbing my stuff to go home. Later on Max and I sat down and wrote the chords and song structure in our apartment. The song is about losing the love of your life and being thrown into an aimless journey because of it. It’s one of the heavier cuts on our album.”
And here’s Whitney’s European tour dates. Go and see them:
Thur Feb 18 – London Moth Club
Sat Feb 20 – Manchester Now Alldayer at The White Hotel
Sun Feb 21 – Leeds Alldayer at Brudenell Games Room –
Mon Feb 22 – Brighton Green Door Store
Wed Feb 24 – Paris Espace B
Thur Feb 25 – Ghent Big Next at Charlatan
Sat Feb 27 – Hamburg Motorbooty
Mon Feb 29 – Berlin Kometenmelodien at Kantine am Berghain
Thur Mar 3 – Oslo ByLarm, Norway
Sat Mar 5 – Where The Wild Things Are Festival 2016, Zeewolde, Netherlands