Take A Whiff in 2017, Kansas City's The Whiffs have added Joey from The Rubs to their lineup and transformed themselves into a road-tested powerhouse. Another Whiff, out today on DIG! Records, was recorded over a year's time in the band's basement practice space. With Rory, Zach, and Joey all contributing songs, you would expect The Whiffs' proper debut album to be something really special. And let me tell you, it sure is! Again the band hearkens back to the mid/later '70s heyday of American power pop (Big Star, Raspberries, Dwight Twilley) with additional nods to the best of 21st Century pop-leaning punk (Exploding Hearts, Gentleman Jesse). But on this 14-song long player, The Whiffs expand their sound to incorporate the aching ballads and beer-soaked anthems of heartland rock lore. This album just feels like America. It transports me to some mythical dive bar where The Replacements, Tom Petty, and Cheap Trick still rule the jukebox. The band still delivers gorgeous melodies, three-part harmonies, and memorable choruses in spades. But while Another Whiff is steeped in power pop classicism, it doesn't limit itself to that. This album is as universal as music gets - packed with songs about heartbreak, lost love, and whatever magic it is that keeps us going back for more.
My greatest appreciation for Another Whiff comes from comparing it to Take A Whiff and realizing how far this band has come. I was so stoked on Take A Whiff that I could not have imagined much room for improvement. But Another Whiff is indeed better by leaps and bounds. Certainly adding another talented songwriter to the band didn't hurt. But clearly The Whiffs benefited from taking their sweet time and honing these songs to their complete satisfaction. This is a rare case of me having no clue which song is supposed to be "the hit". This record is chock full of songs that would be all over the radio in a world where 1980 never ended. Songs like "Shakin All Over" and "Dream About Judy" are pure power pop bliss. "Please Be True" follows that Petty by way of the Byrds blueprint to perfection. "On The Boulevard" is the perfect song for that particular moment when you can't decide whether you'd rather cry in your beer or start dancing. The wonderfully nostalgic "Seventeen" channels Alex Chilton not just in style, but also in spirit.
Another Whiff was one of my most highly anticipated albums of 2019, and it turned out even better than I hoped. It's a great power pop album and a great album, period. You will be seeing this record pop up on a lot of people's year-end top tens, and it will certainly rank very highly on mine. Vinyl available now from DIG! Records!