Whistle (or) you work

Wax Tablet

Zach Jones

• There were many questions answered with the surprisingly substantial profile on THE WHISTLER in the Press Herald this past week, including the somewhat disturbing news that citizens and/or business owners have several times called the police on the guy, which led to a recent court order stipulating that he must remain in motion while he whistles in public. As we now know, the Whistler is a 32-year-old man from Westbrook. He buses into town each morning to spend the day on a seemingly unquenchable stroll, during which he whistles loudly (and rather atonally) along to music in his earbuds. Which means that if you think about it, the Whistler is arguably the person most dedicated to music production in all of Portland (albeit in a deeply antiquated and classical sense). His recent wrinkles with the law enliven a number of social and civic concerns. Even leaving aside the well-documented emotional benefits of whistling, the primary one, of course, is that while we've all had days we're not in the mood to encounter him, attempting to have the Whistler arraigned on the grounds of disrupting commercial activity seems an oddly draconian measure. If whistling is one, it doesn't take much to imagine what other sorts of public activities might be deemed anti-business. Second, we might see the vilification of the Whistler as a corollary to the current debate over Congress Square Plaza, in which the forces of private property and consumer rights are invoked to correct or otherwise suspend the notion of public space. Basically, if we live in a polity that rightfully allows commercial kiosks and unrelenting Bible-thumping sermonizers in public squares, we're going to have to make room for this one weird music fan, too.

• ZACH JONES, Portland's eminent soul singer and songwriter, takes his act to Los Angeles this month, where he'll continue working on the follow-up to his magnificent R&B revival record Things Were Better. There's a slim silver lining in that we'll be better able to distinguish the other two musicians in town with the same name, but that's the only upside we can muster. We wish him the best. Ditto with rapper A-FRAME, frequent collaborator with DJ MIKE CLOUDS, who is reportedly moving to Ohio.

• LADY LAMB THE BEEKEEPER wasn't the only Mainer to puncture the mainstream press this week. Drone-folk squadron HERBCRAFT, captained by L'animaux Tryst impresario Matt Lajoie, were treated to stream of their new Woodsist LP The Astral Body Electric on SPIN.com. While it's weird to see such deeply ensconced undergrounders adrift on a major circuit (click anywhere else on the page and you'll be transported to a hotel booking webpage for Embassy Suites — trippy!), a study of the six ploddingly psychedelic tracks indicates that while their music is a well-honed illustration of a truly off-grid lifestyle, this stuff really doesn't sound that disarmingly far from contemporary rock. It's basically Spiritualized without the narcissism or the death drive. The Astral Body Electric is out March 5.

  Topics: New England Music News , Zach Jones, Zach Jones, Mike Clouds,  More more >
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