Album Review: Routine for Now by The Whags

The Whags come to us from Seattle, an Americana Jam band that makes sweet, groovy sounds reminiscent of The Grateful Dead. The five-piece band takes an open-ended approach to Americana, funk, and sunshine pop and, I can imagine, are a blast to see live. 

The Whags’ debut full-length album, Routine for Now, was released on Bandcamp on April 7 and is a tasty treat for jam-band fans. It could be called cosmic country, psychedelic funk, or any number of tags you’d want to apply to their toe-tapping sound. One thing’s for sure – Routine for Now will have you moving, grooving, and ready for this summer’s festival season.

About The Whags

The Whags are new to the psychedelic scene, having released their debut EP, Smile Maker, in 2019. That was followed by several singles, including two 2022 live tracks, and now this debut LP offering.

The band comprises five longtime musical friends who began collaborating in the summer of 2017. They say their sound is a fusion of groove-driven psychedelic funk and ecstatic jams, all intertwined with beautiful vocal harmonies and a keen pop sensibility. 

The Whags have thrust themselves into Seattle’s strong music community and, according to them, bring invigorating onstage energy (like all good jam bands). This light-hearted music endeavor intends to build a family through tunes and good times. So, let the good times roll!

The Songs

The record starts with Jones Wood, a 4-plus-minute groove-laden romp that is part American Beauty-era Dead and Shakedown Street. Jam bands aren’t my specialty, and I was never a huge Dead fan, so I lack the vocabulary to precisely describe this tune’s soulful sounds. But trust me; it’s a good one.

Casey at the Bat is next, referencing the famous baseball poem and a slice of Americana from poet Ernest Lawrence Thayer. I particularly liked the keyboard on this one and the flourishes of a wah-wah pedal guitar.

How We Hear comes slinking in with a thrumming bass line and continues the soulful jamming of previous tracks. This song reminded me of some late-night jam session from an earlier era, with a rhythm section to die for.

The Lark is also all about that bass, a four-and-a-half-minute tune that balances near-whispered vocals that reach brief guitar-driven crescendos. The main bass riff carries the song like a trip down a lazy psychedelic river.

Bed comes next, a song that keeps the Grateful Dead vibe going strong. Even the vocals and sing-along chorus remind me of Jerry Garcia and The Dead. After listening to enough of their songs, you can see why The Whags are gaining notoriety for their live shows and playing packed houses on the Left Coast.

The album closes with Peach Lite, by far the longest song. At just over eight minutes, this track allows The Whags to flex their jam-band muscles. Along with obvious Dead influences, this one reminded me of the funkier songs from The Band, like Up On Cripple Creek.

Final Thoughts

At The Third Eye, we tend to review the heavier, harder-edged stuff like desert and stoner rock. But we still dig the funkier jam bands, too.

In my humble opinion, Routine for Now is an excellent debut LP by a Seattle band that’s making feel-good tunes that are a perfect balm for our chaotic times. Deadheads and fans of other modern psychedelic jam bands will definitely dig this one.

Support The Whags by checking out their official website or find them on Bandcamp or social media (Instagram, Facebook).

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