In what has been proving to be an absolute shit of a year at least there is some good news, at least I certainly think so. The wonderfully eccentric Whiteside’s Daughter have sneaked out a new song (as of October 9) and can be enjoyed for free at the moment via their Bandcamp page. Now for anyone wondering who the band are and what they are about, they are described as “Southern Gothic Prog.” It is a pretty good description. They released a terrific album a year or so ago called The Life You Save which was a concept piece about the son of a Methodist/Pentecostal firebrand minister who is gay and falls in tow with an atheist classmate who plays guitar in a death metal band called Village Witch. No surprise that his father is not amused! It features music that sounds like a carnival at times along with some heavy riffs aligned with southern grooves and elements of prog such as Rush and Kansas. The band come from the southern states so understand the confines of evangelical type religion, the hypocrisies and the harm it can do for those who do not fall in line with the beliefs. The story is terrific, and the music is superb being wonderfully varied catching all the moods and characters.
WHITESIDES DAUGHTER – Bells For John Whiteside’s Daughter – The New Single:
Now however they have a new track to enjoy called “Bells For John Whiteside’s Daughter” which is an adaptation of a poem by John Crow Ransom. Having checked it up (I didn’t know it) the band stick pretty close to the poem with only a few word alterations but with an added chorus making it into a proper song! The piece is an elegy to a young girl who has died, serious as one would expect but also with a little whimsy as she is remembered in life. Musically they have taken some of the influences from previously but added some more. Vocally it felt like a mix of Tom Petty and Nick Cave with some Thin Lizzy dual guitar playing at points and one moment that goes into Dick Dale territory making me think of a Tarantino soundtrack. What impresses me about the song (as did the album release) is that it all hangs together superbly. It doesn’t sound like a hotchpotch of ideas thrown together. It flows nicely throughout. Thanks to them releasing this I now know where they take their name from.
Hopefully, this is a sign (oh how we need a sign) that perhaps a new album might be on its way in the not too distant future. What I can confirm (from the band themselves) is they are working on an EP called Ransom which will focus on more of John Crow Ransom poetry. This will include a “murder ballad” called “Poor Ellen Smith“. The band have now added another member (not yet in the band photos, but then again as they are separated during Covid a team photo was going to be difficult I guess) a bassist by the name of John McNaughton making it a 4 piece. He joins Steve Deaton (guitars and vocals), Stephen Poff (vocals) and Brian Hughley (drums).
For anyone who likes variety in their music, who are a bit adventurous in their tastes, then make sure you check these guys out. Yes, their influences are on show but the way they mix and match makes them sound unique and a whole lot of fun. In the year of 2020, we sure as hell need some fun!