The full-length debut by Columbus, Ohio-based quintet the Whiles is the sound of a band that's equally at home with Nick Drake, Odessey & Oracle, and Gram Parsons' legendary pair of solo records. While other bands -- most notably Beachwood Sparks -- have tried to combine the orchestral delicacy of the first two with the rough-hewn roots influences of the latter with mixed results, the Whiles pretty much have the combination nailed. Singer and keyboardist Joe Peppercorn has a slightly gruff voice that adds an element of weight and authority to otherwise fragile songs like the ghostly "Lonesome Reply," and producer Jon Chinn (New Bomb Turks) gives the album a glorious, spacious sound that allows touches like just-so low-register strings on several songs, and a percussive, compressed piano part on the opening "Lonely River" to shine within the context of the songs without drawing too much attention to themselves. Fans of the Pernice Brothers and Joe Pernice's related projects will find much to appreciate here.
Colors of the Year Review
by Stewart Mason