Whitney Ballen: First, Last, and Favorite

First, Last, and Favorite is our recurring column in which we get to learn a little more about the artists we love by way of some of their milestones in music listening. This go around we get to know Whitney Ballen a little better.

Whitney had one of our favorite local records of 2018 with You're A Shooting Star, I'm A Sinking Ship. She’s a songwriter with a fabulously unique voice unafraid to hit tough subjects head on with a subtle intensity. And sonically the aforementioned record has a quintessentially Northwestern flavor, plenty of soft and a little loud, intimate production, and plenty of heart. She’s got a live performance coming up Saturday, May 4th around the corner at the Sunset with Cataldo and Kyle Morton of Typhoon. And we cant’t recommend the record enough. Here’s a track:

Whitney was kind enough to give us some details on her life as a music listener, picking some big songs from that made big impressions. Here is Whitney Ballen in her own words:


"A Life of Arctic Sounds" Modest Mouse Building Nothing Out of Something

Besides my junior high introduction to classic rock and "Pacific Sun" retail grunge, I remember having what I'd consider my actual first memory of listening to good music; a song I still listen to today because I remember the feeling it gave me, one that I've tried to recreate in other things ever since, with no luck. However, everytime I put on "A Life of Arctic Sounds," I can sink back into this feeling and experience the moment all over again. I was driving up to Bellingham with a few friends to see a house show. It was the first time we were able to go on a "road trip" for a show. It was summer and we decided to go totally on a wim. I remember there was no air conditioning and the I5 northbound roadside grass was totally dead and it felt like it went on forever- when this song came on via someone's iPod Nano shuffle. Dang, that was a good few minutes. 


"Your Deep Rest" The Hotelier Home Like Noplace is There

Even though this is an older song from not their most recent album, I still can't get enough of it. The lyrics caught me off guard, in fact the whole album surprised me, too. I just assumed it was another emo band with only heartbreak songs, but there's some intense stuff going on behind these songs - real feelings, real life shit. Or if not, they sure make it feel like there was and I'm all about real feelings. "I called in sick, from your funeral. The sight of your body made me feel uncomfortable. I couldn't recognize your shell." Ooof. I love this song and a lot of the other songs from this album because the vocals teeter on shaky singing and almost begging screams. It's a good song to listen to when it's raining and you want to sulk about feeling down while you're also stuck in traffic or just frustrated in general. Don't be shocked if you see me screaming through my car window over in the next lane with both of our windshield wipers on high speed.


"Asking For Flowers" Kathleen Edwards Asking For Flowers

Okay, this was the first song by Kathleen Edwards that I had ever heard. I burned a CD of this album before I left for my first solo drive down to southern California. I turned on the CD the moment I hit I5 south and literally listened to it on repeat the entire drive. It's one of the few albums I can listen to over and over again, hopefully for the rest of my life. When I got to southern California the next day, I knew every word. Asking For Flowers, the title track, is one of my all time favorite songs. There's just so much bitterness in the lyrics despite the effortless vocal line, "Asking for flowers is like asking you to be nice."