Queens’ quirky quintet

Queens-based indie pop multi-instrumentalists Freelance Whales are making a splash with their debut album, "Weathervanes."
By Morgan Rousseau

In April, Queens-based pop-experimental band Freelance Whales debuted their LP “Weathervanes” on Frenchkiss/Mom & Pop records. Now, two months after its release, the New York indie quintet is well into their North American tour.

On its simplest level, “Weathervanes” strives to tell a love story, but its underlying tones deal with deeper issues.

“It’s a story about a boy who falls in love with a ghost,” said Doris Cellar, the band’s drummer and an Astoria native.

The songs on “Weathervanes” follow the tale of a young boy who falls in love with a young female ghost who haunts his childhood home. Like any tragic love tale, their love is doomed. He chases her in his dreams, but finds her elusive. The protagonist in the songs imagines her alive, and daydreams of the possibility that he may join her one day in the ever after.

The record “deals with life and death, energy, happiness, sadness and all living things,” Cellar said.

Raised in Astoria, Cellar said Queens has definitely had an impact on her music. “It’s where I first realized I wanted to be a musician,” Cellar said. “There are tons of rehearsal spaces. When I was in high school, my friends and I would book time and jam out after class.”

Cellar described these rehearsals as some of the only things she looked forward to back then, because all she wanted to do was take out her teenage angst on the drums. Now, years later, these spots are also where the Freelance Whales musicians get to together to rehearse.

While Cellar is the only New York-born band member, the rest of the band consists of multi-instrumental musicians Chuck Criss, Judah Dadone, Jacob Hyman and Kevin Read.

During live performances, the Freelance Whales are known to swap instruments, some of which they’ve made themselves, bringing an electric energy to the stage. Their often dreamy, sometimes angular music comes from a unique collaboration of harmonium, banjo, glockenspiel, synthesizers, guitars, bass, drums and waterphone, a resonant instrument made of steel, bronze and water.

As a result, the songs on “Weathervanes” are awake with organic and synthetic textures, interlocking rhythmic patterns and light harmonic vocals.

“It seems like lots of different types of people have found the album, so I’m just hoping that we keep putting it out there so whoever might like it has a chance to find it,” Cellar said.

Like many an up-and-coming New York City band, the Freelance Whales have taken their music to the streets of New York, as well as its subway platforms. In early April, after playing in New York City almost exclusively for over a year, the group embarked on their first tour of the United States and Canada. Their tour, which includes performances with Cymbals Eat Guitars and Shout Out Louds, resumes in July with shows in Boston, Buffalo and other cities around the country. They are also set to play at Lollapalooza in Chicago in August.

Visit their Web site, freelancewhales.com, to purchase their album and view their upcoming dates.

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