Steal This Track: In The Whale - Reverb

Steal This Track: In the Whale

Eric Riley (left) and Nate Valdez are Denver's In The Whale. Photo by Emily Driskill.

Eric Riley (left) and Nate Valdez are Denver's In The Whale. Photo by Emily Driskill.


As we enter the second month of winter, we hunker down into what is probably the year’s prime music-making and music-listening season. In the summer time, it’s hard to get Coloradans to come inside from their mountain biking, 14er climbing, river rafting and hut tripping, but in January — with the days just beginning to get longer and the weather getting colder — we seek the shelter of bars, clubs, basements, galleries, churches and coffee shops to warm our hearts and nourish our souls with warm beverages and live music. It doesn’t get much warmer than Denver power duo In the Whale, who will release its debut EP, “Cake,” with a show at the Hi-Dive on Saturday. Read on to steal a bite before anyone else.

In the Whale arose from the ashes of two Colorado bands — Greeley’s What About Pluto? and Trailer 77 from Las Animas. When Eric Riley of the former and Nate Valdez of the latter found each other in Greeley in 2009, they knew they wanted to create something different from what either had done before. The pair soon landed on a gritty, energetic and stripped-down take on blues rock that frequently draws comparisons to other loud, raucous duos like the White Stripes and the Black Keys, but with the lecherous spirit of vintage ZZ Top.

Though In the Whale only relocated to Denver about a year ago to hone its sound and develop its fan base, the songs on “Cake” sound like the work of confident veterans. The melodies bore through your earholes and deep into your brain, while the driving grooves throttle you with erotic abandon. Riley and Valdez write songs that revel in the seedy and unseemly, and perform them with the leering swagger and powerful musk of a tracksuit-wearing drunk. Tickle Me Pink‘s Joey Barba adds production punch to three of the EP’s four tracks (and adds guitar and backing vocals), while Churchill‘s Joe Richmond amps up the fourth. Additional noise and disruption are contributed by Churchill’s Tyler Rima (bass) and multitalented keyboardist Riley Boone (organ).

As disturbingly unholy and unnatural as is the grimy, groovy sound of In the Whale, nothing feels more natural than to leave “Cake” on repeat for hours on end. Get your first taste by stealing “Woman” right now. Then don’t miss your chance to get your hands on the full EP this Saturday night at the Hi-Dive. Tickets are a mere $7, and Denver Eldren will release its CD the very same night.

Please note that downloads offered via Steal This Track are intended to whet your appetite, and are NOT CD-quality recordings. If you want those, please support the artists by buying their music and/or seeing them live.

If you’re a band or musician ready to expose your fresh sounds to the readers of Reverb, email your tracks — along with any interesting facts about them, as well as a photo or album art — to Eryc Eyl for consideration.

Eryc Eyl is a veteran music journalist, critic and Colorado native who has been neck-deep in local music for many years. Check out Steal This Track for local music you can HEAR, and the Mile High Makeout for stories about Denver musicians doing extraordinary things. Against his mother’s advice, Eryc has also been known to tweet. You can also follow Steal This Track on Twitter. Sorry, Mom.