Artist Discovery:
Noah and the Whale

In the spirit of helping you discover the range of talented musicians on the 2013 lineup, we’ve enlisted local writer, Arden Ward to tell the stories behind some of the most buzzworthy musicians hitting Zilker Park. You’ve already met Shakey Graves, Luella and the Sun, Sons of Fathers, and The Wild Feathers, now check out the new album from Noah and the Whale.

By Arden Ward

Noah and the Whale launched onto the international scene in 2008 with the debut album, Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down. Released in perfect harmony with the indie-folk storm that was overtaking radio dials, these Brits quickly became darlings of a modern lo-fi resurgence.

In the past five years, the band’s lineup has changed and its sound has evolved, relying less on the acoustic guitars and harmonic hooks of yesteryear and leaning more on edgy string instrumentation paired with ‘80s-inspired synthesizers. Whether it’s the early acoustic sounds or the electronic overtones of more recent releases, Noah and the Whale play heavy on teen sensibilities, delivering nostalgia that appeals to the 17-year-old outcast in us all.

Heart of Nowhere, released in 2013, is a catalog of coming-of-age songs that bode well from dorm room speakers to a festival stage. Supplemented by strings and electro-pop roots, Heart of Nowhere captures the beautiful, desperate nature of teen angst, delivering those old feelings in a package of tender lyrics that are at once warm and biting.

“Somewhere not far from now, it was decided that adolescents were detrimental to a well-functioning society. Teenagers were quarantined onto an island within the city, colloquially known as teenland,” reads the opening text on the video for “There Will Come A Time,” the first single on the new album. With those two sentences, the tone is set for an album that is a testimony to teenage unrest: reassuring anthems that proclaim victory over the awkward years — as long as you’re willing to wait them out.

The album is accompanied by the release of a short film co-written and directed by Noah and the Whale frontman Charlie Fink. Just like the band, the film will soon be touring the international festival circuit.

Noah and the Whale take to the ACL stage again this weekend with a Sunday afternoon set that will end your festival experience on a feel-good high. Couple Noah and the Whale’s easy-going folk set with Franz Ferdinand’s dance party and you’ll have a nostalgic, fun-loving Sunday afternoon for the books.

Between festival weekends, we asked the British band for their list of ultimate ‘festival recharge’ songs:

Pick Me Up Tunes

1. Henry Mancini – “Moon River”
Fred’s favourite song of all time! Utter perfection.

2. The Rolling Stones – “Tumbling Dice”
This brings the party.

3. Cher – “If I Could Turn Back Time”
Anna Calvi recommended this to us as her favourite pre-gig song. She’s on to something.  

4. ACDC – “Gone Shootin’”
The groove is so good that it even gets Fred “Coffin-Dodger” Abbott dancing.  

5. Shuggie Otis – “Strawberry Letter 23”
A legal shot of euphoria: and they’re hard to come by.  

6. Billy Joel – “We Didn’t Start The Fire”
For obvious reasons.

7. Bruce Springsteen – “Murder Incorporated”
Essential US road music.

8. Jerry Lee Lewis – “Drinking Wine Spo-De-O-Dee”
Proof of the electrifying madness of The Killer.

9. ZZ Top – “I Gotsta Get Paid”
This is FILTH!

10. Van Morrison – “The Healing Game”
Yes I’ve pretty decent sherry, and a little drop of port…

See Noah and the Whale at ACL Fest on Sunday, Oct. 13th @ 2pm (Honda Stage).