PANTHER IN THE DOLLHOUSE
Six Shooter Records/Thirty Tigers
The Dark and Beautiful Side of Alt. Country.
A few years ago there was a slew of boy/girl Country duet album in the spirit of George & Tammy and Dolly & Porter; each had its merits but I fell deeply in love with ‘the one that got away’…….Whitehorse’s Self-Titled debut album, and tracks were regularly featured on my long gone radio show.
Subsequently the couple, Melissa McLelland and Luke Doucet have released another couple of well received albums; although they never arrived at RMHQ; and their solo careers have gone from strength to strength. So, it was with some excitement that I received this particular album; but with only really knowing them as a Classic Country Couple I wasn’t really prepared for the massive ‘leap to the left’ in their sound.
Epitaph in Tongues is a dark and aerie Lo-Fi song, full of beautiful harmonies, crunchy guitars and a song somewhere between the Cowboy Junkies and the Handsome Family. Strange at first; as it was so unexpected; but today…..WOW……the perfect accompaniment for a stormy Winter’s evening.
This is followed by a slightly chirpier track Boys Like You; but the use of loops and electronica still keep it away from even the Alt. Country mainstream as the couple use effects pedals and vocal inducers like Phil Spector on ‘ludes and strong coffee.
Once I’d got my head around it; I now love this album; especially the bitingly sharp Trophy Wife and the Gram influenced I Can’t Take You With Me (Charlene’s Theme).
Played loud in the car on a sunny day (and I did!) the quirky Pink Kimono is a great Country Pop tune; but the Electro-Country of Nighthawks and Kicking Down Your Door are sort of similar but so very modern they are almost Futuristic-Country…..and that’s a damn good thing in my humble opinion.
If I still had my radio show (and it’s a possibility kids) there are two songs here that I’d love to play for you; the beautiful and ethereal Grace and the wild and wacky Manitoba Death Star which is….well….it is what it is; and will scare some people and enamour others; which is surely what music is all about…isn’t it?
PANTHER IN THE DOLLHOUSE will and should appeal to fans of the Cowboy Junkies, Giant Sand, Barenaked Ladies and Jonathan Richman as everything here is of an incredibly high quality but way different from the norm; and the world is a much better place because of bands like Whitehorse who are prepared to take huge risks in the name of their Art.
Released UK August 4th 2017
Released Canada & US July 11th 2017