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From Austin by way of Bedford (a small town pinned between Dallas and Fort Worth) comes WHU GNU. Or, to be more precise, came Whu Gnu. The band hasn’t truly existed in years; the members recorded Walking Spanish in their spare time away from other projects (marriage, children, other bands, most prominently lead singer JONATHAN MEIBURG‘s SHEARWATER). It goes without saying that Meiburg’s flamboyant croon is the music’s most prominent feature; whether you find his vocals stridently overstuffed or movingly soulful, it’s the signifier that attracts attention. But even the most accomplished singer needs worthy material to support, and Walking Spanish has a brace of distinctive tunes, from the tuneful pop of “Jorge” and “Man in the Motor” to the atmospherics of “Terrible Holiday” and “Army Raincoat” to the epic, lighter-waving balladry of “Back Seat.” The band freely mixes pop, prog, folk, psychedelia and jazz in ways that highlight the tension between styles as much as the compatibility, giving the songs a compelling pull. Promotion may be scarce for Walking Spanish, especially as a digital release on which a sticker prominently announcing “featuring Jonathan Meiburg from Shearwater” is an impossibility, but that doesn’t mean you should let this record pass by if you have any interest in carefully crafted, passionately performed pop.
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