Three piece Portland darlings, Havania Whaal, up the ante by throwing a mandolin into their fuzzy pop. I tire of genre-classifications as quickly as anyone. It's a dangerously limiting business and semantic abridgments do nothing more than allow us to overuse hyphens. That said, Havania Whaal's self-described "twee-gaze" may be the most useful turn of phrase to characterize them. It's fresh, fun, loud, raw, primitive, bouncy, dreamy, rebellious, and carefree. At some point, the sun melted a mixtape of Hole, Sonic Youth and Beat Happening into a boisterous, wine-filled party.
It's deeply personal, but unlike a lot of the mainstream indie-pop, Havania Whaal doesn't appear comfortable to simply strum along. It's steeped in a DIY aesthetic that challenges as much as it celebrates. They're not afraid to be dirty and musty. There's a grassroot feel to their vibe -- similar to a suitcase full of unmarked tapes and handwritten labels. Familiar, but it requires you to linger a little bit and offers a few surprises as you go. Havania Whaal combines some of those traditional pop elements with the joy of making music. They're a great reminder of what it takes to be a band these days. Creative impulses and good friends always make for a better band than a vapid, yet well maintained web presence.