Song of the Day: The Lighthouse and the Whaler – Under Mountain, Under Ground

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “Under Mountain, Under Ground” by The Lighthouse and the Whaler from the 2010 self-released album The Lighthouse and the Whaler.

The Lighthouse and the Whaler – Under Mountain, Under Ground (MP3)

If classic literature taught us anything, it’s that when a lighthouse and a whaler are mentioned in the same story, tragedy is sure to follow. Considering the name The Lighthouse and the Whaler, then, you might be thinking of rocky shores, obsessed ship captains, and lone, panicked shore watchmen frantically trying to replace a blown out bulb. Rather, the young Cleveland group proves that in indie rock, the whale is the wolf’s kinder if not downright folkier cousin (Or the Whale, Said the Whale, Freelance Whales, Black Whales, need we say more?), as they perform uplifting, rustic indie pop. Appropriately enough, band members Michael LoPresti, Aaron Smith, and Mark Porostosky first performed together during an impromptu gig in an open field, and what started out as a test-the-waters jam session turned into a beautiful moment that had passersby paying attention and even parking their cars to watch these guys play. Soon, Michael’s brother Matthew was added to the lineup, and together they released a pair of self-produced EPs that earned them title of “Best New Indie Artist” at The Cleveland Scene Music Awards 2010 and garnered a bit of media attention.

Today’s featured song, “Under Mountain, Under Ground,” begins with a lone strumming mandolin and builds through sweet harmonies, a resonant barroom piano, and propulsive percussion to an exuberant climax. The song’s message is jubilantly positive — “I’d love to hold you up / against the raging tide / I’d love to hold you up /until the end of time” — despite its undertones of expected or experienced loss — “I’ll wait for you here / you’ll come to say ‘come back to me'” and “the secret we shared upon that hill / your passing over was so still.” It’s an ultimately beautiful melody that easily recalls Fleet Foxes and their brothers in name, Freelance Whales. Their debut LP, A Whisper, A Clamour, is similarly full of poppy sing-alongs with plenty of glockenspiel and handclaps. With it, they are ready to sail to further shores.

And 2011 should bring them close to your shore as the band is already underway with a U.S. tour that will eventually land them at Seattle’s Jewelbox Theater on March 3. Check their website, MySpace, and Facebook pages for more information. For now, here is the video for another great song on the album, “White Days”:

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