Search - Whipping Boy :: Heartworm

Whipping Boy
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (9) - Disc #1

Sounding like Echo and the Bunnymen fronted by Nick Cave (with a few of Joy Division's grayer shades thrown in), Whipping Boy play with their guts and their hearts, and you're riveted until the last track ends (which is wi...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Whipping Boy
Title: Heartworm
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Sony
Release Date: 2/20/1996
Genres: Alternative Rock, Pop, Rock
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 074646746820, 074646746844, 5099748028129

Sounding like Echo and the Bunnymen fronted by Nick Cave (with a few of Joy Division's grayer shades thrown in), Whipping Boy play with their guts and their hearts, and you're riveted until the last track ends (which is with a strange, eerie little bonus about paranoid schizophrenia). This is an Irish band that doesn't want to be U2, The Undertones, or even The Boomtown Rats (although, on "When We Were Young" they manage to sound remarkably like The Pogues all dressed in black). The guitars stutter and swirl, going from smooth to spiky, while the rhythm section thunders away underneath; singer Fearghla McKee leads you like a pied piper over the hills and far away to a place where it's always dusk, the streets are empty, and the music of Whipping Boy is playing on the edge of your mind, just out of reach. --Chris Nickson

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CD Reviews

The sonic equivalent to a dark and violent thunderstorm
Rick Taylor | Silver Spring, MD United States | 06/19/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Every once in a great while, an album is released that is hailed as a classic by respected music critics and rabid fans, yet fails to succeed with the general public at large. Often when this happens, critics and fans find themselves waxing philosophical over the "why's" and "how's" that something so good could be so criminally overlooked. In the case of Whipping Boy's "Heartworm" album, it's pretty clear as to why this album never *crossed over* with American audiences. This is way too dark, intense, and emotionally violent for the majority of American alterna-rock fans. This is music that is powerful, confrontational, and most importantly, overflowing with a disturbing level of conviction. Furthermore, the kind of mood and emotion on this album has a distinctly English flavor (even though the band actually hailed from Ireland). My theory is that the last thing most American FM rock fans want to hear is music that doesn't play well as *background* but instead forces you to listen due to its emotional urgency.Whipping Boy achieves this emotional urgency right at the outset of "Heartworm." The opening track, "Twinkle," begins with a very tragic sounding melody played on a violin over top some softly-played guitar chords that hint of reverb and delay effects. When this intro gently gives way to the song proper, the listener is immediately struck by the captivating voice of Ferghal McKee. McKee possesses a wonderfully rich and beautiful voice that embodies warmth and sensitivity. Yet this voice also belies a certain anger and darkness that becomes more apparent as the album progresses.The melodies in "Twinkle", both in terms of the instrumentation and the vocal lines, show a remarkable degree of intelligence, creativity and subtlety. Guitarist Paul Page, who was the main creative driving force behind Whipping Boy, laces "Twinkle" with hushed guitar tones and gentle washes of feedback during the verse section, where McKee's lyric, "She's the air I breathe, not too pure for me" wraps around the listener's ear like a boa constrictor. When the loud-as-hell guitars finally explode during the chorus, McKee's once-sensitive sounding voice gives way to an almost primal-sounding scowl that would have made Ian Curtis proud. These intense vocals are made all the more enjoyable with some well-executed and very memorable harmonies. With that said, the highpoint (and most unexpected moment) of the song occurs at roughly 3:54, when, after the chorus has repeated itself along with the aforementioned guitar explosion, yet *another* and even *louder* guitar explosion occurs---with this particular sound coming across as the band being hellbent on acheiving the mother of all guitar sounds. It's almost as if a coked-up Jesus & Mary Chain made a last minute, impromptu appearance at the recording sessions and decided to join in the festivities for the last 60 seconds or so of the opening track. Once "Twinkle" draws to an emotional close, the album's quality and consistency never dips. "When We Were Young" is an intriguing sonic journey that alternates between feelings of wistfulness and frustration. "Tripped" takes the album to a darker place, exploring unusual cadences and oft-kilter guitar sounds alongside the band's now trademark melodicism and smart songwriting. This is followed by the equally impressive and even more bleak-sounding "The Honeymoon Is Over", which serves as a wonderful showcase for the talents of guitarist Page. This track in particular, along with the next song, "We Don't Need Nobody Else", serve as the album's emotional centerpiece. It's easy to see why the latter was interpreted as misogynist, with the line, "I hit you for the first time today/I didn't mean it, it just happened." While the band deny this interpretation, the line only makes the song that much more harrowing and disturbing.And speaking of disturbing, there is no question that vocalist McKee had "issues." He was notorious for cutting himself with glass bottles on stage ala Iggy Pop, and occassionally stripped naked while performing. To be sure, quite a few of the lyric passages contained within this album have references that are so esoteric and region-specific, they could easily be interpreted as the nonsensical ravings of a madman. In fact, I have to admit that I am not sure myself how to interpret the lyrics for the last track, "A Natural", where McKee confesses, "Today is not a good day for me/For today I found out I was mad."There is no question that this is one of the darkest, most emotionally-revealing albums ever recorded. After listening to this, I often feel emotionally-drained in a way that's comparable to watching a film like "Saving Private Ryan" or "The Deer Hunter." And while the band's influences are clearly apparent (most notably, Echo and the Bunnymen, Jesus and Mary Chain, Kitchens of Distinction), they do succeed in molding their own unique sound apart from their contemporaries. Highly recommended."
Lost classic
Ethan Straffin | Palo Alto, CA USA | 09/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"They came, they made something slightly phenomenal, they disappeared. That's just how it goes sometimes. Let's leave it at this: at the prices for which it's currently available used, there is absolutely no excuse for your not picking this one up -- especially if you dig Jesus & Mary Chain, Catherine Wheel, My Bloody Valentine, Bob Mould, and the like.

Monstrous hooks. Guitars that take no prisoners. Thoroughly bleak, borderline misanthropic lyrical outlook. Achingly gorgeous throughout. Prime wallowing music, basically, and recommended without reservation for when you need to get that stuff out of your system so that you can get on with something a bit more positive."
Ethan Straffin | 06/10/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a brilliant album spawning from the mid 90's alternative scene. This album is much deeper and maturer then most of the stuff that became popular. Most people who bought this in the states probably purchased it on a whim and I will tell you, we are very lucky cuz this is a gem. Wish I could find more info on this band today."