College Times

Whispertown Gets Around

By Ana Anguiano • College Times

Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Updated: Thursday, May 24, 2012


Courtesy Big Hassle Publicity

Morgan Nagler isn’t afraid to try new things when it comes to her craft. The enchanting Los Angeles singer, songwriter and guitarist understands how music can bring a community together and does her best to unite as many people as she can. With flexible songs, a barrage of talented friends and a passion for the road, there is no stopping her.

Whispertown, aka Nagler and a rotating cast of friends, has supported plenty of talented acts such as Jenny Lewis, The Breeders, Rilo Kiley, Bright Eyes, She & Him, The Elected, Azure Ray and Maria Taylor.

The band’s latest album, Parallel, dropped earlier this year and is their second release with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings' Acony Records. Currently they’re on the road opening for Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s.

It has been quite some time since Whispertown released and album, thus Parallel was a nice surprise. Nagler said she approached the album as an experiment.

“It started just as a song on the acoustic guitar and Jake Bellows (Neva Dinova), who co-produced it and co-wrote a couple of the songs, and I were sort of just talking about experimenting with the sound,” she said.

Nagler’s guitar playing is a bit “jingle-jangle” with full strumming, but the plan was to strip her trademark sound down.

“We were thinking of how we could simplify it and only play notes that had a specific purpose and point,” she said.

Recording Parallels fell into place once she met with producer Andy LeMaster (Bright Eyes) in Athens, Georgia.

“We told him our idea along with a lot of other ideas,” Nagler said. “I typically have really lofty ways of explaining things that aren’t that specific, but we seemed to really have some sort of psychic connection and he totally understood everything.”

Seeing as Nagler worked on the album mostly on her own, she didn’t have to worry about consulting band members nor did she have any musicians in mind while creating the songs. That flexibility would later allow for them to be interpreted several ways.

“Being on my own starting this, you have the song and you can make it sound like anything,” Nagler said. “You could really turn it in any direction. It was fun to utilize that sort of freedom.”

Nagler has been able to play shows with a six-piece band and can still just play as a stripped down trio. She has played with different musicians and heard the songs in different arrangements.

“It’s been really cool to see the songs come to life is all these different ways,” she said. “It’s been so fun.”

Nagler is also friends with plenty of musicians in the LA music scene that play with her. In fact, she lives with Bellows and Nick White (Tilly and the Wall), but their home doesn’t seem to be a place for much rest and relaxation.

“We all live together in a boat-like structure we fondly call The Shack,” Nagler said. “The walls are lined with amplifiers. Behind my bed there are three guitar cases that pass as a headboard.”

Being able to take her work home with her (or maybe it’s the other way around) seems to fit in with Nagler’s philosophy on connecting people. It is also the same reason she cherishes touring.

“I think [touring] is so important because the more we relate to each other, the more compassion we have and the more humanity we have as a culture,” she said.

According to Nagler, every city has its own personality despite sometimes feeling they’re all the same.

“Right now it’s such a weird time with technology and people are withdrawing more and more from actual connections to other people,” Nagler said. “That’s why I play music outside of my bedroom, so why not go as many places as you possibly can and reach out to people?”


Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s w/Dinosaur Feathers, Whispertown, Crescent Ballroom, May 26. 8:30 p.m., $14 adv, $15 dos


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