Comprised of Graham Patzner (vocals, guitar, violin and piano), Will Lawrence (bass and mandolin), Nick Cobett (drums and guitar) and Charles Lloyd (guitar and sitar), Oakland, CA-based quartet Whiskerman quickly developed a reputation in the Bay Area for a unique folk-rock sound that paired lush instrumentation and profound lyricism — and for a passionate live show that often featured Patzner singing at the top of his lungs while playing the fiddle.
The quartet’s 2011 self-titled debut was the culmination of several years of songwriting and performing; however, over the subsequent few years the band has expanded their sound as the material has drawn from a wider array of influences, and the individual members of the band have had more freedom to showcase their unique talents. And as a result, the band has found ways to eschew easy categorization — 2014’s Bad News EP featured funky, soul-leaning material, complete with a horn section while last year’s Nomad featured orchestral string arrangements and electronic flourishes around art school rock. Whiskerman’s forthcoming album Champions will further cement the band’s reputation for a genre-mashing, difficult to categorize sound as the material reportedly draws from barroom rock ‘n’ roll, blue-eyed soul, pastoral folk, blues, and ragas while thematically the material focus on life and love, success and failure, and what it means to be alive in a world in which everything is seemingly small and insignificant.
The album’s latest single “Waking Up in Providence” is a bluesy and soulful song that sounds as though it were deeply indebted to the classic rock sound of the 70s, AM radio rock, and singer/songwriter confessionals as the song balances swaggering, arena-friendly bombast, complete with a horn section and a slick guitar solo with a hard-won and earnest introspection, as the song’s narrator talks frankly about the ups and downs of his life — and how love was the force that pushed him through every single thing.