“Vestiges of Tails Appear in All of Us” by Ancient Whales
Text by John McCall
Raw, gritty and yet still a little more colorful and accessibly melodic than some of the other lauded rock material I’ve heard in the underground lately, “Saturday Morning” is one heck of a strong song from indie beat-makers Ancient Whales. One of the thirteen tracks comprising their new album Vestiges of Tails Appear in All of Us, “Saturday Morning” packs a rambunctious adrenaline reminiscent of the Vaselines and Minutemen skewed with surreal elements from the likes of Wand and Howard James Kenny. Their influences are clearly anything but predictable, but in this band’s sound is anything but scattered or too rough for consumption here.
Vestiges of Tails Appear in All of Us is a very guitar-driven record, with songs like “EA,” the overdriven marvel “Giving,” blistering “Oh Yeah” and guttural “Time” sporting some of the sexiest riffs in the tracklist. The six-string is utilized as the agent of hypnosis we never knew it could be in “To Be” and “Raunchy,” with its best examples of supremacy coming in between bursts of beat-born catharsis (each one seemingly more visceral than those that preceded it). Ancient Whales do a lot of things well, but this is definitely one of their strongest attributes without question.
I absolutely love the graininess of the harmonies in “You Know What to Do,” “For All” and “Everything,” and while they’re fantastically noisy in all the right ways, they never impede the melodic core created by the vocals here for second. Even the most atonal components of Vestiges of Tails Appear in All of Us feel like they were stylized with the intention of contributing to a grander narrative as opposed to merely adding texture to the music. There’s nothing unnecessarily indulgent in this material, but it wouldn’t be nearly as enticing were it not riddled with some degree of excess (at least by mainstream standards).
Most of the songs on Vestiges of Tails Appear in All of Us are around two minutes long – a modest running time by all accounts – with the longest composition here clocking in at a mild 2:44, but none of these tracks sound even slightly limited or jagged in presentation. Seventy eight second tunes like “Time” don’t need a lot of additional room to make a broadminded impact on listeners; whether it be the two minute tune “Stick and Poke,” “You Know What to Do” or “Giving,” every stitch of content on this record sounds complete, and more importantly, full-bodied.
I only just recently found out about the music of Ancient Whales through an industry colleague more interested in college radio than I am, but after getting into the jams featured on Vestiges of Tails Appear in All of Us, I’m very excited hear more of their work. Ancient Whales take all the best elements of hardcore, grunge, proto-alternative rock and 60’s psychedelia and throw them into one giant melting pot of melodicism in Vestiges of Tails Appear in All of Us, and for my money, wind up delivering an AOTY candidate in the process.