Growing up in conservative Birmingham, Ala., Wild Sweet Orange's Preston Lovinggood (vocals, guitar) spent some time running away from his Baptist past but now works through the concepts of rebellion and redemption in his music. He said that although the idea that the South is filled with mean, weird people can be found in American music, it's not really like that, and his conflicted but fond memories of his upbringing are reflected in his songs. Lovinggood is an articulate guy whose soft, tired voice expresses a thoughtfulness surprising in someone at the tender age of 23, and that comes through in his lyrics. The Whale features his airy vocals buoyed by the talents of Taylor Shaw (guitar), Chip Kilpatrick (drums) and Garret Kelly (bass) mixing down-home Americana with rumbling rock guitar. For a release from a band finding its stride—they've opened for The Whigs and had airplay on Seattle's KEXP—The Whale is still a big name to live up to. Lovinggood said the name stemmed simply from his desire to use an animal as a symbol. It's hard not to conjure up images of Jonah and Lovinggood confirms the band had some struggles (he said they started out as a punk band, and Shaw said he thought someday he'd be a basketball player). But what listeners hear is an overall sense that the boys of WSO make what they do sound exactly like they intended.
Lovinggood and Shaw said The Whale is a good example of WSO for people who aren't familiar with them, but their live shows are where it's at. Shaw said if he's not drenched in sweat and about to pass out after a show, he didn't do his job. "The Whale is like dinner," Shaw said. "And the live show is like dessert."
March 24, with Dead Trees and Low-Fi, 8 p.m., $8. The Bouquet, 1010 W. Main St., 208-345-6605.