The Deli Portland

The music video for Havania Whaal’s “Supermoon” was released this past week. It follows the protagonist as they fall asleep underneath a glowing full moon stuck to the wall. As happens in any good dream, everything in the video is out of place yet exactly where it’s supposed to be. It has the snarky attitude of indie-darlings like Ghost World and Juno, encased in the style of silent films. Havania Whaal’s distorted, buzzing music follows the protagonist as they attempt to navigate the romantically campy dreamscape. The characters in the video may be out of sync with their bodies, but they’re perfectly in tune with the music. It’s a playful house of horrors, one you’ll enjoy getting lost in.

New Noise Magazine

New Noise Magazine is pleased to be bringing forth the exclusive premiere of “Supermoon” by Havania Whaal. The spaced out, feel good vibe of the tune is guided by its sonic atmosphere. The tune swirls through an opening sequence that is much akin to a psychedelic dream. The music video, although black and grey, provides listeners with an opportunity to color their own portraits of images. Take a listen below! The song is off of the recent release, Elaborate Minor Crisis.

“This video was a 6 month project paying homage to some of our favorite moments in fantasy, sci-fi and silent films. In true Gregg Araki style we filmed the entire production in our basement living room and built each set by hand from mostly items rescued from the recycling bin or dug out from the Goodwill bins.” – Havania Whaal

Aural Delights

So much music I get sent, and I get sent a lot, tends to be bland and cloned. It’s as if there’s a factory/laboratory somewhere in a nameless city/town/village (delete as applicable) where the “magic formula” that made Busted “successful” is applied to fifteen year olds to turn them into avatars of that inane indie guitar thang. The guitars all sound the same. the vocals all sound the same. the chords are inevitably major and all predictable. I guess there is a human capacity for some to mimic/imitate what they like and try and replicate it in the hope of some sort of career coming out of it. Some have the mystery element of being able to turn it into something new and interesting. Others are merely copyists and either pass it off as new or end up in tribute bands. Nothing to get too hung up about I guess but a reason why my radio shows tend to feature stuff, in the most part, that doesn’t sound like anything else, hopefully.

I’ve also been around long enough to realise that some things are cyclical and styles tend to come back so you may not have heard it before but I have.

There’s a lot about Havania Whaal that you will have heard in other bands but they have a knack of altering/subverting/enhancing what has gone before them. Which is why they get my attention.

Their Bandcamp bio says:

Havania Whaal is a three piece noise pop band from Portland, Oregon that formed in a musty basement during the cold winter months of 2012. Drawing inspiration from a large spectrum of artists like Joy Division, Sonic Youth and Cocteau Twins, Havania Whaal’s sound has been described as “stargaze pop” by two girls in Olympia.

They have a big sound for a three piece and in no small part the three voice attack and Noelle Magia’s full poly-rhythmic drum attack make up the major part of the wall of noise which emerges from their new one “Elaborate Minor Crisis”. Paul Billy Sobeich conjurs huge layers of shoegazey/sonic youth noise from his guitar, The trio is expanded on some tracks with effective additional violin tracks provided by Melody Wilbrecht.  Caroline Jackson holds it together with some pungent bass which locks seamlessly with Magia’s rhythms.

This is an album which explores several angles of the same overall sound, which feels like something like some other stuff you will have heard, but also manages to emerge in other directions into areas which you will not have heard before. It’s definitively American, it’s plain daft in places, “The Party” feels like a Thurston Moore laconic ramble through a Bongwater track with a no wave bad attitude nibbling at your ears. Other parts are plain shoe-gazey in a Cocteau’s stylee. Sometimes, on “Chambers” particularly, Sobeich channels Ian Curtis, which is slightly incongruous, and in particular said track heads in an early goth direction  before sounding like it has leaped, kicking and screaming, from the back entries of Northampton in the 1980s. “Spiral Out” is particularly memorable juxtaposing a poppy Liz F verse with a punky Coathangers chorus. Closer “Dylan McKay” is as relentless a closer as any band would sell their souls to Jools Holland for.

All in all it’s a damn good set of tunes. Click on the thing below to see how to get it.

Portland Mercury

“Brood-gaze” is exactly what it sounds like: moody shoegaze informed by a constellation of legendary bands like Cocteau Twins, Joy Division, and X. Havania Whaal is the self-described “brood-gaze” project of three busy Portland musicians: drummer Noelle Magia (Plastic Weather, Smoke Rings), guitarist Paul Billy Sobiech (Fine Pets), and bassist Caroline Jackson (Lubec). This week, they’re releasing their third album, Elaborate Minor Crisis, on Seattle’s Youth Riot Records.

Since forming in 2012, Havania Whaal have put out two records, most recently 2015’s 13 A.D., a concept album about their 2014 East Coast tour “told through the allegory of The Wizard of Oz.” They take theatrical cues from Of Montreal—Magia says she started her first band a few days after seeing them live—and stage performances with fake blood, glitter, and (now retired) giant papier-mâché heads.

For the Elaborate Minor Crisis release show, there’ll be some new papier-mâché surprises and burlesque acts from Wanda Bones, Rummy Rose, and Baby LeStrange sprinkled throughout their set. Reflecting on how many hours they’ve spent preparing, Magia jokes, “Man, why can’t we just be in a normal band that just puts out an album and doesn’t need any papier-mâché involved?”

But it’s a feat worth celebrating, because on Elaborate Minor Crisis, Havania Whaal sounds more confident than ever. All three members contributed to the songwriting, and their individual talents glow throughout its 10 tracks, which range from hazy shoegaze (“Bay of Pigs”) to mathy post-punk (“Blowtorch”) to sunny noise-pop (“The Reverend”). Magia’s percussive attack is calculated chaos, Sobiech’s steely guitar riffs shape-shift with every song, and Jackson holds everything together with steady bass lines and backing vocals.

 

They got a major assist from violinist Melody Wilbrecht, whose contributions make for some of the best moments of Elaborate Minor Crisis. On the standout track “Supermoon,” Wilbrecht’s instrument slices through fuzzy noise like it’s whittling an ice sculpture masterpiece.

It’s hard to understand the lyrics—they’re buried under a lot of distortion—but Magia says most were written after she broke up with a toxic partner. “It’s basically processing being in an abusive relationship,” she says. “It’s definitely a message I want to put out there, because at the time I was going through it and getting out of it, I felt really fucking alone.... That’s what the song ‘Undercover’ is about—how [abusers] dismantle all your defenses.”

It’s the album’s eerie centerpiece, with skittering percussion, murky bass lines, screeching violin, and hissing guitar oozing nervous energy. Tempos surge and retreat like an eel lurking in the shadows, waiting to strike.

Magia says she wrote the prophetic opening track, “Croissant,” after having a bad dream about Donald Trump before he’d even entered the primaries. She thought it’d be dated by the time they released the album—no one had any idea he’d go on to win the 2016 presidential election. “At the time, it wasn’t even that political,” Jackson says.

“I feel like a bad witch that brought this upon us, because I wrote this fucking song,” Magia quips.

Though the Elaborate Minor Crisis release show will be Jackson’s last with Havania Whaal, after recording the album they added a second guitarist, Basil Stevens (Radler, Young Elvis). It’s a bittersweet moment for the still-evolving band.

“I call her the Havania Whaal doula,” Magia says of Jackson. “Paul and I see this band as our child—I’m in a band that’s his vision, he’s in Plastic Weather, which is my vision, and then this is us together. The people we invite [to play with us], it’s like you’re helping us raise our child.”

Distinction Music Management

Portland’s DIY dreamers, Havania Whaal just put out their new album #ElaborateMinorCrisis and it sure is an emotional roller coaster, it’s a full on breakdown of this band’s eclectic influences. The album starts out with a shrill violin part that almost sounds like crying over the drowsy guitar and drums, giving you a taste of the grey sky brand of shoegaze that this Portland quartet has down so well. After opening, the band picks up the tempo and rides out on a glistening guitar riff by Paul Sobiech; reminiscent of something from DIIV’s Oshiinrelease. Distorted power chords drenched in delay, coupled with the harmonies of the drummer Noelle Magia and bassist Caroline Jackson towards the end of the track pull you into the depths of their insufferable emotions, accomplishing the magic that the Cocteau twins do in the same way. Speaking of twins, this group has the power of a sibling duo behind it with brother and sister Sobiech and Magia, which is an unspoken plus for so many amazing musical groups.

 

Havania Whaal has a way of toeing the line between catchy dream-pop hooks, and uplifting guitar parts mixed with their ethereal vocals; juxtaposed against depressive post-punk howls interspersed with swirling shoe gaze psychedelia that only gets more intense as the album goes on. #ElaborateMinorCrisis has a good flow, taking you further into Havania’s lucid realm that becomes well realized as you take steps down the stairway of their echo chamber. The climax moment on this album feels like it happens on the track "Undercover" where the layering of guitars and effects along with the return of the weeping violin (featured by Melody Wilbrecht) build into madness and psychedelia as the track slows down and the band begins chanting “We Have Our Eyes On You” reminding you of the album cover of three eyes beneath the tracers of six hands, suddenly making the imagery more powerful. After this fever dream of a track is possibly the most danceable one on the album called "The Party" where happiness and simplicity returns on this bouncy number, suddenly I’m transported to an ocean vista seen from a dark room laced with black lights and neons.


Havania just started their fall tour and they will be coming to Seattle this Friday, November 3rd to Maison de Fat Cat. This will definitely be a show not to miss during the Halloween season. 

The Grey Estates

There are instances in which a band and their pieces of music can keep you continually guessing, their identity evolving and forming right before you. On Elaborate Minor Crisis, the band Havania Whaal twists and turns through various facets of sounds and ideal - from the screaming shoegaze of "Bay of Pigs" to the kicking punk and seemingly fearless grit of the determined "Blowtorch" to the beautiful expanse created by the ringing strings of "Chambers", the Portland-based trio thrives on a sonic display of influences and inspirations that unravel into something wholly their own. There's no one description or genre that this band fits into and its an album that begs your full attention. This isn't a release that should be relegated to background noise while you surf the Internet or head off on your commute to work, it's one you need to hand yourself over to. In addition to their amazingly diverse collection of sounds is a message; one of coming out on the other side of an abusive relationship and the band hopes this work serves as a form of solace and empathy for other people who have gone through abuse. In short, the release is cathartic and massive, so give a listen below. and preorder your copy.

Tiny Mix Tapes

A Portland band releases an album on a label based in Tacoma and it sounds like every genre ever played on KEXP mashed into a pulp of noise pop. Yeah, it’s a thing — and hearing Havania Whaal’s third artistic statement, Elaborate Minor Crisis, I’m transported a decade and 2500 miles in the past. It doesn’t hurt the echoed production and noise wall of EMC seems to call to me from the foggy past; an ancient mariner’s song of every musical stereotype of the northwest. But truth is EMC has more going for it than a pile of PNW tropes. The band’s presser name checks bands it rarely touches (Blonde Redhead, Sonic Youth, Joy Division) when the garishly goth trio do better in the same cohort that bred Broken Water and Parenthetical Girls. But aesthetically, sure there’s some women and some darkness that swings into those bigger bands. Where ECM truly distances itself from the PNW rap is “Blow Torch,” where the stilted melody and lyrics creep toward early Aughts NYC, particularly Interpol (Hi Carlos!). Wherever Havania Whaal gathers their inspiration, it somehow whirlpools back to their base of operations. Only the PNW can house a band with this much aspiration and force. So here’s the hoping the juggernaut trio can break out of that location and find some DIY love all across the country.

Portland Mercury

I can only imagine the Portland noise-pop trio Havania Whaal was born into a non-traditional family made up of K Records founder Calvin Johnson, X vocalist Exene Cervenka (see above), and Devo. Growing up on cheap-beer-soaked Slip 'N Slides and Festivus celebrations, Havania Whaal avoided becoming Free People-wearing hippies, and instead arose playing their consistently weird art-punk. Their 2013 album Château de Chienne is scuzzy pop doused in feedback, a difficult but ultimately rewarding listen. And their 2015 follow-up, 13 A.D., shows the group maintaining their noisy weirdness, upping their ambition and melodies with a Wizard of Oz allegory. Between the metaphor and their screeching stoner-pop sound, the Portland band teeters between creepiness and silliness, and are well worth a listen. 

Tour Worthy

If you’re the kind of person who needs a show to kick every holiday off right, consider heading out to Angelo’s the day before Thanksgiving for their Pre-Thanksgiving Bash, featuring some fantastic local punk and punk-inspired bands. Havania Whaal are a down-and-dirty rock group with a quirky edge and some of the weirdest, most beautiful chord progressions I’ve heard. When you think you know where a song is going, sounding full of sweet, surf punk lyrics, they break into almost disturbing, dissonant notes. Their song “Witch Hunt” perfectly sums up Havania Whaal’s mix of the traditional with the eclectic. It’s music that slowly grows on you; at first, you’re not sure what you’re hearing, but then you find yourself smiling at the lyrics and tapping along to the beat. When you listen to music as much as I do every day, it’s incredibly refreshing to find bands that are willing to experiment and dive a little into the weird side of things, especially in Portland.

Secretly Important

There’s no sugar coating this, 13 A.D. from the Portland trio Havania Whaal is an exorcise in misdirection and busted expectations, just when you think you know whats going to happen they flip the entire song on its head, and when you think you know where you are with a song, you’re actually somewhere else. 13 A.D. is a strange and quirky album, it feels as though it was designed to confuse the listener or to lull them into a moment only to have the song erupt right in their face. None of this is unique, indie music is littered with noise-rock, neo-no wave, experimental rock, and questionable genre mish-mashes, but it is really rare to have that same quirky attitude in an album so accessible, one that skirts the edge of pop-driven sounds, actually who comes to mind is Sonic Youth.

Havania Whaal identifies Sonic Youth as a major influence, one that manifests throughout 13 A.D. with songs fluctuating from heavy dirty noise-rock to beat driver pop-rock, and then back into that noisy punch. At times it can feel like there are two songs spliced together jumping back and fourth. Havania Whall almost seems to be too uncomfortable settling into something too straight forward, similar to how Sonic Youth would take a song that was destined for the pop radio airwaves and then would dirty it up as if to keep it from those kinds of places. Skulduggery is the perfect example of a really killer indie rock song with a strong heart beat that refuses to come to a climax and instead makes an abrupt directional change into a whole new song. The album opens on Old Hobbits with a thunderous heavy grind, but twenty five seconds in it tumbles into another song altogether.

Another of the quirky aspects of this album is the very abrupt and rough transitions from heavy fuzzy guitar into a clean addictive melody. It’s jarring to the point where you can almost hear the foot dropping down on the distortion pedal, and while at first I couldn’t quite grasp why they would want such rough transitions I realized that it all just feeds into that misdirection and expectations, like Wylie Coyote you run right off that ledge and don’t even realize it until you look down. That distortion also plays into something I later learned was true, which was this kind of call and response not only with the vocals of Noelle MagiaCaroline Jackson, and Paul Billy Sobiech (who I nearly thought was Calvin Johnson), but also with those shifts in the sounds; smooth, jagged, smooth, jagged.

If you don’t end up buying this album on Cassette, Havania Whaal has gone through the trouble of providing you with two unbroken cuts of the album and that is really the crux of this whole weirdly beautiful album. 13 A.D. is not comprised of strictly delineated singles tailor-made for radio play, this album is intended for a single listening experience. There are songs and most of those songs have their own tempos, melodies, and themes but the progression of the album and its climax really takes shape when you hear it as it was intended.

What you can’t necessarily see but you do get the sense of is the theatricality behind Havania Whaal. Similar to a band like Kithkin who’s stage presence you can’t see on their album but you can definitely hear it in their intensity, Havania Whaal seems to have crafted songs with a grandiose scale. The album makes your joints move, and you can feel the intention of movement throughout. When put into context with all the little quirks on this album, when you let the album come to you and let it inform you I found the experience to be rather extraordinary. 13 A.D. seems to breathe on its own, intended to be performed and heard as a straight shot right through without interruption, then it becomes this really amazing thing. Of course I’d be lying to you if I said that I hadn’t been listening to songs like SkulduggeryWitch Hunt, or Deliquesce on repeat.

13 A.D. is out now, and while it may be one of the stranger albums I’ve come across this year it is also one of the best. You can buy the album at havaniawhaal.bandcamp.com.

- See more at: http://www.secretly-important.com/review-havania-whaal-13-a-d/#sthash.vqzB6cIG.dpuf

Willamette Week

WHO: Paul Billy Sobiech (guitar, vocals), Noelle Magia (drums, vocals), Caroline Jackson (bass, vocals).

SOUNDS LIKE: An unearthed Calvin Johnson-Bilinda Butcher side project.

FOR FANS OF: Sonic Youth, Joy Division, My Bloody Valentine, Liars, Beat Happening.

Havania Whaal still has blood in the fridge—leftovers from the spooky video shoot the band just wrapped for “Skulduggery,” a track from its upcoming “twee-gaze” cassette, 13 A.D. “We filmed the slaughter scene in our living room,” says drummer and vocalist Noelle Magia, explaining that the video ties together references to The X-Files, Psycho, Twin Peaks andScooby-Doo. “It’s 15 minutes long. It’s pretty ridiculous.”

Clearly, Havania Whaal is here to entertain. That’s been the case even before Magia and guitarist Paul Billy Sobiech met three years ago. Magia was in a band called Glitter Express, whose onstage experimentation often involved—you guessed it—glitter. One night, at a shared bill, Sobiech’s band, Best Supporting Actress, decided to match the energy. They wore dresses and brought a vanload of helium balloons that Sobiech stole from an open house. “It was cute,” Magia says. They began dating and started Havania Whaal, whose name is an inside joke mashed from a series of mispronunciations.

Since then, the band has shifted its lineup as well as its sound. Where their past releases have been ear-biting experiments in noise, 13 A.D. is surprisingly smooth and spacious despite the heavy distortion, shoegaze breakdowns and Magia’s uninhibited drumming. The new tape recounts Havania Whaal’s 2014 East Coast tour through the allegory of The Wizard of Oz, an idea Magia and Sobiech cooked up during a trip to the Eastern Oregon desert while listening to the Flaming Lips’ ominous 2009 album, Embryonic. “I like the music to be dark and dreary,” Sobiech says, “but also with a bunch of texture.”

Despite the changes, Havania Whaal’s knack for theatrical live performance remains intact. “We’re doing this whole play, basically,” Magia says of the upcoming 13 A.D. release show. “We’re playing the album in its entirety, but we’re doing the story behind the concept album with live actors.” Expect costumes, giant papier-mâché heads—and maybe some fake blood. 

Portland Mercury

At the release show for their new concept album 13 A.D., Havania Whaal pulled out all the stops and enlisted a handful of friends to act the parts in a play they adapted from the record. It was a strange and unique display, and I can't think of a more fitting goodbye to the recently shuttered Habesha. Even without the elaborate stage show, Havania Whaal's live act is not to be missed. Paul Billy Sobiech's vocals have an alluring, off-beat twee-ness to them, although he and his bandmates have left their woolly sweaters at home in favor of fuzzed-out distortion and warped textures. Tonight the band pair up with fellow experimental noise-pop outfit Lubec before they kick off a joint East Coast tour. 

Portland Mercury

Havania Whaal have it their way, you won't even see them at their show on Saturday. To celebrate the release of their compelling and haunting new album 13 A.D., the garage-pop band is staging their concert like pure performance art. Or, as drummer/vocalist Noelle Magia describes: "Like being inside a Michel Gondry video." There will be a small troupe of actors on hand wearing oversized papier-mâché masks to play out the story of the record, which tells the tale of the band's 2014 East Coast tour as viewed through the allegorical lens of The Wizard of Oz. As for Havania Whaal, they'll be behind a curtain, churning through all 10 of 13 A.D.'s blown-out songs of lost hours and self-doubt. 

The Blog That Celebrates Itself

De Portland vem o trio insano Havania Whaal, seu mais recente trabalho 13 A.D. é audacioso, complexo e ao mesmo tempo freak e insano, uma cacetada em várias direções onde todas elas vão parar em no centro da cabeça.
13 A.D. abre com a sequência insana de Side A: Continuous Play e Side B: Continuous Play tudo numa marretada só, ou se você preferir as músicas uma atrás da outra começa pela faixa 3 Old Hobbits e daí por diante.
Tem de tudo que se possa imaginar no caldeirão do Havania Whaal, garage, shoegazer, psych, noise é um verdadeiro tiroteio de referências.
E o melhor, é altamente viciante.
***** Interview with Havania Whaal *****

 


Q. When did Havania Whaal started, tell us about the history...
Paul (the guitar player) and I (Noelle the drummer) met through our old projects playing a show together in May of 2011. We got to know each other through the music scene then started dating soon after we met. I had wanted to play drums and Paul wanted to help me with an outlet for that so we formed the band and started playing out around the summer of 2012. We had a reconfiguration of the line up in the summer of 2014 and switched Paul to guitar (was previously on bass) and got Caroline Jackson from local PDX band Lubec to join us on bass. 

Q: Who are your influences?
Sonic Youth, Pixies and Electrelane are really big influences for us sound-wise but we also draw inspiration from the artistic approaches to performance in bands like Flaming Lips, of Montreal and Bjork. 

Q. Make a list of 5 albums of all time…
of Montreal: Hissing Fauna Are You The Destroyer 
Flaming Lips: Embryonic
Gang Gang Dance: God's Money 
Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon
Beck: Mellowgold

Q. How do you feel playing live?
Playing live is one of the thing we enjoy most in the band cause that's really why we started in the first place. We like to play as much as we can and get a lot out of working out things live. It also give us an opportunity to do something really fun at the performance to add another level to the show. For instance for our album release on June 20th we're playing our new album in full and staging a dramatic play with live actors acting out the story behind our new concept album. 

Q. How do you describe Havania Whaal sounds?
It's a dreamy post punk take on noise pop. 


Q: Tell us about the process of recording the songs?
We recorded with our friend Carl Sherman of PDX band Gentle Bender. We have a real DIY approach with a lot of what we do even recording so we like to go to friends if we can as that allows us to really have our hands in the project and get the sound we are looking for. 

Q. Which new bands do you recommended
Broken Water, Mode Moderne, Terror Bird, Priests, Eternal Summers

Q: Which bands would you love to make a cover version of?
We have been throwing around the idea of a Nirvana cover. Covers are actually something we talk about a lot but haven't pinned down many to really do yet. We did however have a really sloppy cover we were doing of The Cranberries Dreams

Q: What´s the plan for the future....
We will be going on an east coast tour (Boston, MA down to Florida) in July and have a project of making a video for every track on the new album so we will be busy with that for a bit. Here's a link to the first video off the album for the song Witch Hunt:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nA7g2M9X7IQ

Q: Any parting words?
Make it weird!
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Thanks

https://havaniawhaal.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/HavaniaWhaal
http://havaniawhaal.com/