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If you’ve been to a music festival in the past few years, you may have noticed the strange trend of people under 25 wearing Grateful Dead T-Shirts. I’m not quite sure if it’s a fashion statement or a genuine love of a seminal jam-band, but if it’s the latter there’s certainly no reason that those same people couldn’t be wearing Whatz What T’s as well.

The Collingwood Ontario group writes music that could easily bring you out of a 4pm festival funk…you know where you’re tired, sun-burnt, dehydrated, and maybe hungover depending on how many days the fest is. You’re burnt out wondering if you should find some shade, and then you hear the first few notes of a song like the album’s opener Figmentation: “I wanna see you in that light again, where everything you did was so out of sight but then, I realized you’re just a figmentation of my imagination” the group sings.

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Hopefully, live music won’t be a ‘figmentation of our imagination’ and we’ll be able to see this group perform in the near future.

“Holy fuck, that was the one,” they exclaim between tracks, and I think we can all agree that it definitely was.

Grooving basslines and overdriven guitar licks shine through most of the album, but Cymothoa is another noteworthy track. The music comes off as very dark but with glimmers of hope, like trying to find a beam of light in a black hole. The sitar is a nice touch on this track, as the instrument features semi-tones not usually prevalent in western music that really help find a balance between light and dark, or yin and yang.

Down The Road has some Allman Brothers vibes with a little bit of country shuffle that fans of the genre can get excited about. The rhythm section really drives this tune, but the flourishes of lead guitar and solo make it a memorable track. By this point in the album, you’ll notice that Whatz What definitely isn’t afraid of blending genres, combining funk, hip-hop, and rock with some pretty interesting results.

Album closer WWYDWI is a great balance of everything we’ve come to expect from Whatz What so far, but even edging towards the 1-hour mark (a pretty bold move for a band’s debut release) there’s still a few surprises. The synth stabs and psychedelic vibes really keep it fresh and the fun video game samples are a great added touch. The band gives every member one last chance to shine over the almost 8-minute finale, the drums hold it down, the bass weaves its way throughout the track, and the guitars and keys battle it out in a friendly contest to see who can make the song most exciting. “I’ll be calm and happy, I’ll be calm and happy, not for you for me, I’ll be calm and happy, I’ll be calm and happy, just you wait and see” are the perfect lyrics to hum along to on a drive with no real destination in mind.

What? is available to stream on Youtube and bandcamp where you can also purchase the album digitally.

Written by Russ Walsh