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Gravelly Rock Meets Off-Kilter Pop

The Whigs' members do as good a job as anyone at making frat-rock for hipsters.
The Whigs' members do as good a job as anyone at making frat-rock for hipsters.

It's somehow fitting that The Whigs' members reside in Athens, Ga., the birthplace of R.E.M. and the flashpoint of '80s indie-rock. The trio's debut, Give 'Em All a Big Fat Lip, is a great and goofy exercise in late-'80s/early-'90s nostalgia that combines the gravelly rock of The Replacements with the off-kilter pop of Guided by Voices.

Originally self-released, Give 'Em All a Big Fat Lip was recently picked up and reissued by Dave Matthews' record label. The disc, a chaotic, lo-fi mix of guitars, drums and horns straight out of Memphis, was reportedly recorded in a deserted frat house, which also seems fitting: The band, barely out of college itself, does as good a job as anyone at making frat-rock for hipsters.

One of the disc's few contemplative tracks, the slight and lovely ballad "Written Invitation" sounds like an only nominally updated version of great '80s left-of-the-dial offerings like "Can't Hardly Wait," which is another way of saying it's amazingly good. With its soft but killer hook ("If you're on the 118 / I'll find you on the 118") and atypically mournful air, it's a fuzzy ode to unrequited love that sounds both impossibly sad and improbably hopeful.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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Allison L. Stewart
Allison Stewart is a writer living in New York. It's entirely possible to see her work in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, No Depression, Rolling Stone or any number of other places. Or to miss it entirely, which is just as likely.