With the nature of tips we’ve received on Freelance Whales — both from the wide array of tipster-types (industry kids, concert goers, streetwalkers catching them playing on a corner) and the neighborhood they all inhabit (Williamsburg) — we sorta figured this band would fall squarely into the prevailing washed out/hypnagogic fuzzbucket hazed-pop thing before having heard a note. After seeing ’em at a loft party and spending some time with their self-released debut, it’s really nice to hear that they don’t fall there at all. Turns out FW are way out of step with the dominant trend of ’09, and more in line with what the non-Gang Of Four appropriating wing of indie music was fixated on a few years ago: sounds that are acoustic and precious, boldly baring bespectacled sensitivity and couching touching melodies in delicate instrumentation: everything from guitars, banjos, tambourines, harmonium, and glockenspiels to yes the occasional keyboard and laptop assist.

It’s not to say Freelance Whales are a bygone-trend retread, or that they’re a cold fish in a chillwave: in fact there’s palpable warmth and tactful touch that crackles throughout their strongest tunes’ group chants, harmonies, occasional computer beats and baroque-pop arrangements that should prove irresistible to people with soft spots for the likes of Sufjan, Ra Ra Riot, Postal Service, and on. Freelance Whales don’t sound like any of those artists outright, but they’re linked in their strength at expressing fragility, and at working out a sentimental but memorable melody. See if this pair from their debut Weathervanes gets under your skin after a few spins. (That’s a photo from the loft party, one that got a little notice in other corners of the internet.)

The band’s self-released debut Weathervanes is available now. You can hear more, including the lovely electro-emo “Starring” and the album-closing “The Great Estates” at their MySpace. You can see them at a rock club, loft party, or subway stop near you. If near you is Brooklyn.

Comments (49)
  1. Nice, sweetsounding stuff. Sounds like it’s really well-recorded too. Like the home-sewn cover…

  2. Meredith  |   Posted on Sep 30th, 2009 0

    I’ve heard these guys on the street and at shows and they’re unbelievable. And the drummer is slammin’.

  3. sk  |   Posted on Sep 30th, 2009 0

    Love these guys. “Generator First Floor” is epic

  4. So this song on the LP “Stairs” (FKA “Hannah Takes the Stairs”?) was for the mumblecore movie I assume? Or just inspired by it?

  5. davis  |   Posted on Sep 30th, 2009 0

    i love you

  6. Liz  |   Posted on Sep 30th, 2009 0

    amazing band!! I highly suggest everyone to check them out.

  7. lovely  |   Posted on Sep 30th, 2009 0

    Anybody else getting HelloGoodbye vibes?
    I dig it. :)

  8. MrLebaron  |   Posted on Sep 30th, 2009 0

    These guys are Kick-Ass.

  9. fairburn  |   Posted on Oct 1st, 2009 0

    WAIT. Another band from Brooklyn on Stereogum?! Get the eff out of here! No, really. Get the eff out of there. Take a road trip. See the country. Listen to some other bands that don’t play loft parties in Williamsburg. Jesus, the NYC dominance of the indie music press has got to end.

    • Always got something to bitch about. Just enjoy some fucking music.

    • it’s not nyc’s fault that is puts out great music around the clock. what a silly thing to complain about. brooklyn, queens, mannhattan, etc.. who cares? nyc has been putting out great music long before indie rock. i for one am glad that so much amazing music is concentrated in one place. it’s called community and it’s a good thing, yes?

  10. soupyman83  |   Posted on Oct 1st, 2009 0

    Amazing band and amazing album. Definitely see them live if you have the chance – they put on a sick show.

  11. Liz  |   Posted on Oct 1st, 2009 0

    I just want to clear up that this band is not from Brooklyn. In fact, the members come from all over the country, but they formed in Queens and currently reside there. GO SEE THEM!!! Best show I’ve been to in a long time.

  12. jac  |   Posted on Oct 1st, 2009 0

    yeah, dude, pretty sure they’re actually from queens, right? anyway, pointlessly writing a band off based on locale aside, these guys are freakin’ great. caught a show of theirs at crash mansion and it killed. super tight, crowd was eating it up and lyrically…they’re gods – “tell me i look stunning and cadaverous.” yeah.

  13. Chris Z!  |   Posted on Oct 1st, 2009 0

    Hey I don’t usually comment but I had to because it seems that while the songs are different, “First Floor” sound an awful lot like Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up.” I still do like the sound of this band, though. I hope this doesn’t start a fight, but if it does then put up your dukes!

    • Joey  |   Posted on Oct 7th, 2009 0

      The chord progression in wake up is the same as in yellow by coldplay. So arcade could be called out for copying too.

  14. jared teller  |   Posted on Oct 1st, 2009 0

    yeah, i can hear that a little bit. the chord progression is very similar, but all the instrumentation surrounding it is rather different. It doesn’t bother me. i definitely like this song. It’s also possible that since the since this song is literally about waking up (ostensibly to crank generators to power a home) that it’s something of an intentional reference. thoughts?

  15. Triss  |   Posted on Oct 1st, 2009 0

    Freelance Whales is from Queens. i applaud them for being confident enough in their music (and rightly so, it’s good stuff) to not follow all the other poser bands into Kings County who think they need to latch on to a trendy scene just to be appreciated.

    nothing against brooklyn, i have lots of love for parts of it…but Stereogum wants to blow Williamsburg so bad, it’s starting to come off as a bit pathetic.

  16. Triss  |   Posted on Oct 1st, 2009 0

    “You can see them at a rock club, loft party, or subway stop near you. If near you is Brooklyn.”
    just stick to talking about the music because your googoo gaga-ness over brooklyn is so contrived and tired. even if they were from brooklyn, just say so and move on…i’m in queens and i don’t really give a shit that they are too. the music is good? cool, I’ll check it out.
    i hate seeing the indie music scene becoming a fashion. keep it about the music, that’s all that should really matter.

  17. Triss  |   Posted on Oct 1st, 2009 0

    i’m diggin this, will be checking out more

    BUT did anyone else go to that “other corners of the internet” link to

    WOW- did anyone else think that article was really really lame? i feel bad that FW had to be involved. “Culturally Significant?”?? so the dude invites strangers to parties where they wear nametags- are we supposed to be impressed? i’m a nice person but seriously, i couldnt tell if the writer was just a clueless out-of-touch loser or if the whole thing was a humorous parady making fun of that guy and the annoying Billyburg cliches associated with.

    why am i talking about this here? because you have to register to comment there.

  18. Lane  |   Posted on Oct 2nd, 2009 0

    easy listening doesnt mean its good

  19. Chris Z!  |   Posted on Oct 2nd, 2009 0

    I could see this as an intentional reference, but still feel that the band should pay some respect to the artist they stole from almost directly. It’s literally a key change away. Even the way the melody flows can be attributed to “Wake Up.” Also, what is with the recent trend of ending songs right as they build up? (Instigate argument)

    • Gee-orge  |   Posted on Oct 5th, 2009 0

      Haha, not really trying to argue, but I’m not really buying it as a Wake Up ripoff and/or reference. Despite the arguable surface similarities, the song takes on a completely different emotional vibe (subjective, I suppose) than Wake Up due to differences in instrumentation and structure. In terms of contextualizing it within an album, First Floor is the first track (whereas Wake Up is the 7th track); I wouldn’t think about it as ending right as it builds up, but rather building up into the rest of the album.

  20. Dante  |   Posted on Oct 5th, 2009 0

    I came back to this page after two friends of mine and i had left comments and noticed that all the names on our comments were changed to Triss…I guess that’s because we all used the same computer so Stereogum assumes that one IP address means one person?
    Is that an attempt at becoming a bit more big brother?

  21. “cold fish in a chillwave”

    I like to say that aloud.

  22. WeMustBeStopped  |   Posted on Nov 5th, 2009 0

    I heard “Hannah” yesterday on World Cafe on NPR and immediately started looking up as much as I could find about them. What a great find!! I love this band!!

  23. Oat  |   Posted on Jan 7th, 2010 0

    Is this band incredible or what? The muisc is so engaging and sounds even better when they are busking in the subway or the park that it does plugged in. They just realeased their album on ITunes so hopefully more people will discover them and support their music so they don’t go away. That would be a tragic loss!

  24. Liz21  |   Posted on Jan 21st, 2010 0

    I heard their song on Ugly Betty this week: We Could Be Friends. This episode aired on January 20, 2010. The song was heard during the last part of the show. It’s very sweet and kind of sad.

  25. I met the grandfather and a cousin or two on the steps on the 1st Unitarian Church. Nice people.

  26. Love the band, very informative article with their drummer Jacob Hyman here

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