The members of the New York-based quartet Whitewash met while they were all studying at jazz at NYU (my alma mater) – founding members Jon Ben-Menachem (bass) and Sam Thornton (guitar) had met and bean playing along to the Ween discography and decided that they’d rather spent time writing and recording their own material. Interestingly Ben-Menachen later met Evan Glazman (drums) while they were both auditioning for a jazz program at NYU, and Ben-Menachem convinced Glazman that he could have a successful music career outside of jazz drumming – and from there the lineup was cemented. As a trio, the band started covering Led Zeppelin, Mac DeMarco and Thee Oh Sees but without having much of a musical direction. Eventually the band recruited Glazman’s roommate Aram Demirdijan (rhythm guitar) and shortly after began to craft their own sound by experimenting with a variety of genres including bossa nova, noise, psych rock and others. And after about a year of writing the band recorded their debut effort, Fraud in Lisbon in a completely DIY fashion on Ben-Menachem’s laptop.
After the release of Fraud in Lisbon, three of the four members of the band promptly got on planes to Paris and Prague for various commitments. But when the band reunited last June, they were determined to make it the band a serious thing. They played a number of NYC area shows including an extremely belated album release show at The Knitting Factory and started work on their first studio-based album Shibboleth which was released earlier this month. Engineered by Mike Hurst, the material on the album not only possesses a studio polish, it also reportedly is the quartet’s most diverse to date, as the material manages to draw from an increased variety of sources including pop, 80s synth pop, psych folk and distortion-heavy guitar freak outs. However, the album’s latest single “Dissociative Episode” sounds as though it draws from Steely Dan and psych rock – but with a decidedly pop feel.