Great White Whale Review

artist: Secret and Whisper date: 11/16/2009 category: compact discs
Secret and Whisper: Great White Whale
Released: Feb 12, 2008
Genre: Post-hardcore / Alternative / Ambient
Label: Tooth And Nail Records
Number Of Tracks: 12
Finding their music turning in a different direction because of Charles, "Stutterfly" changed their name to Secret and Whisper.
 Sound: 8
 Lyrics: 9
 Overall Impression: 9
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review (1) 4 comments vote for this album:
overall: 8.7
Great White Whale Reviewed by: Rockinguitar, on november 16, 2009
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Sound: Secret and Whisper used to be called a post-hardcore band called "Stutterfly," until lead singer Chris Stickney left the band and was replaced by Charles Furney from "thebleedingalarm." Finding their music turning in a different direction because of Charles, they changed their name to Secret and Whisper. Instead of past wild screaming and power chords, SAW completely remodeled themselves with 2008's Great White Whale, featuring an ambient, smoother, and deeper sound, that draws a lot from Charles experiences and emotions. Also cutting through the backing electronica effects are Jason Ciolli and Bradyn Byron's tightened guitars, Jordan Chase's ambient bass, and Ryan Loerke's amazing drumming. These, along with Charles soaring vocals, make for a completely different band. // 8

Lyrics: Changing their sound and Charles taking over writing affected SAW's lyrical theme from their past band. He's definitely taken to heart the saying "A picture's worth a thousand words." Using elements of the earth and moon as a theme, Charles draws on his experiences poetically: "I say never again; to friends and fads and fitting in A phantom walks to the sea Fades and secretly drowns Until his heart's appeased." (From "Vanishings") and "Machinery, don't fail me I'm fixing these things As they're falling apart." (From "XOXOXO") Though frequently using the ocean as a theme, Charles keeps from overdoing it and refreshes the material each time. And the music fits with the lyrics so well, it makes you wonder if the rest of the band wasn't looking over his shoulder while he was writing it. Charles' delivery and mix with occasional well-placed screams is fantastic! Compared to Stutterfly, there isn't much screaming on Great White Whale, but every time it appears, it's placement is perfect, flawless, and electric. Charles also definitely isn't the first "high-range" singer to appear in music, but listening to vocals from SAW helped me understand my other favorite bands like Saosin and Coheed And Cambria. // 9

Overall Impression: 01. Blonde Monster: A short, ambient opening let you know this isn't going to anything like Stutterfly. Charles and Jordan's mixing vocals contrast with Ryan's huge, reverbing drums. Not a staple, but a definite listen if you want to get in the mood for the whole album: 6/10 02. You Are Familiar: Blonde Monster accelerates us into You Are Familiar, a track about a faceless person in Charles' dream. The guitars run a quiet counterpoint to the vocals, and if you listen carefully, Ryan adds in a few mini breakdowns. Not a bad track, but sometimes I'll skip the first two when I want to hear SAW: 7/10 03. Vanishings: Is about past experiences with different bands and labels. Bradyn and Jason's guitar work is good, with a delayed riff which harmonizes near the end of the song. I give it a: 7/10 04. XOXOXO: The song that made me look up Secret and Whisper, "XOXOXO" is an artistic piece of brilliance!! The lead guitar's riff is simple and direct, yet powerful enough to make you want head-bang! What's even more amazing is that Jordan's bassline could be easily forgotten though he keeps the song from floating too far away. Ryan's drumming also accents absolutely EVERYTHING in this song while keeping the drumline completely separate. Charles excellently delivers an emotional view of a pessimistic person in a relationship with a carefree person. If "Vanishings" was a 7, I have to give this song a: 10/10 05. The Actress: A track I skipped for a while because it seemed cheesy, I finally realized it was deeper than it seemed at first glance. The song reflects the idea of watching a movie and escaping reality for few hours. Light, clean guitar riffs echo through the speakers and compliment the pads and keyboards behind them. Ryan's drums are simple at first, and then he mixes it up as the song continues. Though somewhat slow between two giant songs, I'll still give this a: 7/10 06. Spider Besider: An even higher lead riff and heavy drumming make this song bitter/sweet! The second verse features a scream that instantly makes the light turn into a dark corner! If you want the story behind the song, I'd look it up; It's sad, but thought-provoking. For another monument on the album: 10/10 07. Looming Moon: A delayed, clean guitar sets the stage for a lighter song. Charles and Jordan's harmonies are flawless and the bridge makes you feel like you're floating away into space. Charles lyrics about the thought of quitting music are expressed beautifully through lyrics like: "May we all turn into leaves that crack and break apart And I'm anxious to relieve my mind from desperate thoughts." I give this a song a: 8/10 08. Attacker: This song is so energetic I feel like kicking something over!! Ryan's super-accurate accenting is back in full blast after the break and small solos and riffs are coming out of the ears of this song. The keyboards and electronica effects are clearer again as well, making the slight breakdown at the bridge one of the best on Great White Whale: 9/10 09. Anchors: Another album landmark, Anchors is a personal favorite of mine. Jason and Bradyn's harmonic hook is a must-learn for guitarists and Jordan finally gets the chance to show off a little. This song's first break features an awesome low scream from Charles, which launches the song's beautiful ambient bridge. The chorus is another poetic gem from Charles, taking from the ocean theme once again. This song has definitely earned a stable: 9.5/10 10. Werewolves: Another song I stupidly skipped at first, it draws more from the piano and electronica side of SAW. The song is elegantly written, with echoing vocals from Charles and Jordan being complimented by the background pads and piano. The lyrics are as mysterious as ever and when the song is over, it'll probably feel like a dream. The lightest song on Great White Whale gets a haunting: 8.5/10 11. Lovers: After missing guitars from Werewolves, Bradyn and Jason instantly remind us they were there. With a high opening hook and fantastic counter-point during the verse, this song is very guitar driven. Ryan's disappearance from Werewolves is also forgotten as he keeps up the rolling and accenting from before. Charles also shows off his high range, while lyrically referring to earlier songs like The Actress. I give it's grandness a royal: 9/10 11. Great White Whale: You'll be tempted to skip this one... DON'T. Title tracks usually aren't strong, but this is a major cornerstone of Great White Whale. They use electronica elements to create something that sounds like high whale calls, and Jordan's subtle basswork is wonderfully laid above Ryan's light drums. The guitars and vocals continually grow until the bridge, which drops into an ambient, delayed guitar riff. The bridge grows slowly into an AMAZING screamed verse by Charles, which explodes into the final chorus. The lyrics poetically use a story to explain loneliness and being careful how you deal with it. If this song doesn't get a 10, none of them do: 10/10 Stutterfly hasn't lost it's emotional past, but it has found a better way to deal with it. Secret and Whisper have presented a debut and have shown that the term "Post-Hardcore" doesn't necessarily mean out-of-control screaming and boring breakdowns. It's been a year, and I'm still hearing things in this one album that I haven't heard before. To me, nothing could replace this album...except, hopefully, their upcoming 2010 album: "Teenage Fantasy." Let's hope for the best this new rock year! // 9

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