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Whitney performs at Tulane University April 28 

The band's latest is 2016's acclaimed Light Upon the Lake

click to enlarge whitney-1.jpg

PHOTO BY DOMINIQUE GONCALVES

Even Bob Marley — if he were alive — would concede "No Woman, No Cry" is a played-out collegiate anthem at this point. But the comma placement in the title continues to fascinate, lending a George Jones-like second meaning to what is, on its face, a simple consolation. On Whitney's "No Woman," which introduces the band's still-stunning 2016 debut Light Upon the Lake (Secretly Canadian), the single entendre is plain to see. Singer/drummer Julien Ehrlich opens in a hit-the-road falsetto: drinking on the city train, waking up in L.A., sleeping alone, going through a change — or, no woman, lots of crying. The drop comes one minute in, with a pearlized stream of guitar tears that would make George Harrison gently weep. They're bolstered by mise-en-scene strings and, in the glorious final 60 seconds, a warm blast of horns, making sense of Ehrlich and co-founder Max Kakacek's stated affection for Allen Toussaint. It's one of the best indie-rock arrangements in years, the kind of thing you don't often hear from a couple of 20-something songwriting novices (though each musician spent time in other talented outfits, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Smith Westerns, respectively). Amazingly, four other tracks reach for the heights of that vertiginous opener, paired up for maximum impact into two back-to-back sets: "Golden Days" and "Dave's Song," the vertebral bridge between two carefully sequenced sides; and "Polly" and "Follow," a diptych denouement that lodges its waterfall melodies deep in your ears. The album's immense charm is largely about the dichotomy between the sophisticated structures and the amateurism of Ehrlich's vocals, like a kid singing along to his favorite songs, soon to be yours. Shannon & the Clams opens. Presented for free by Tulane University Campus Programming.

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