Those Lavender Whales’ “Tomahawk of Praise”

“These songs are fun and catchy, full of clever, intriguing moments lyrically and musically.” -HE

Holly Etchison
those lavender whales tomahawk of praise

out of 10

Those Lavender Whales
Tomahawk of Praise
January 17, 2012
Fork and Spoon Records

Remember when the Danielson Famile arrived in the music world at large with “Tell Another Joke at the Ol’ Chopping Block”? Maybe you don’t, but it was a happy (and interesting) day when my friend passed me those confessions of faith. Life sometimes seems to run in a cyclical fashion and hearing Those Lavender Whales, it seems the baton of obscure melody and sincere sentiment is retrieved and goes boldly forth with “Tomahawk of Praise.”

Husband and wife Aaron Graves and Jessica Bornick along with Chris Gardner have supplied a catalog here chock full of confessional tunes with references to a guy who said “let the little children come unto me for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Adults and teenagers alike gather round. Families, children, self, the frailty of self, freedom from self, it’s all here. But don’t let that deter you: these songs are fun and catchy, full of clever, intriguing moments lyrically and musically.

The mission is plainly stated and underlined with chirpy Indian war calls on the introductory “Fingertips”: “I’d like to invite you to break into my chest.. I’d like you to take my heart and take my crown.” The banjo on “Exist” is bouncy while the singer confesses “I’m feeling so embarrassed of myself not accomplishing the things I know I’m supposed to do.” Unexpected hoots and hollers please in “Buckling” as do the Beach Boys serenades in “Who/Why/We”.

A real punctuation comes in the album’s flow with “Having Haves & Halving Haves.” Minimalist guitar and clear vocals bring us back to basics: “If we keep giving half then we’ll soon have nothing left.” “Mountain,” a stellar moment, also departs in a more serious way with repetitive banjo licks and the heaviest guitar you will find on “Tomahawk.”

There’s so much we pass by, so much we should be thankful for.

“So much we should be thankful for, so much joy we could find thru the pain that we must endure.”

“Family Trees Share Their Leaves” brings it all back home in another shining moment. Perhaps sprung from the egg Sufjan hatched on “Trees of The Field Will Clap Their Hands,” it will delight fans of whistling the world over. Guitar riffs also please on “Sleeping Is So Easy” with its relatable confession: “I’ve been putting things off, that’s what I do best. I’ve been shutting my eyes, that’s what I do best.”

A brooding, joyful excursion, the title track “Tomahawk of Praise” ends this offbeat hymnal in a surfer garage rock kind of way. Distinguishing themselves from the herd, Those Lavender Whales seem to be saying stop, look and listen. Maybe it’s not a lullaby or a love song we need. Maybe it’s a song shaped like a pillow with an ax inside.

-Holly Etchison, August 14, 2012