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TAS In Session: Noah And The Whale

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Given the supple, summertime buoyancy of Noah and the Whale's 2008 hit "5 Years Time" (with the ever-hummable, ukulele-strummed "fun fun fun" and "sun sun sun" refrain"), the grey clouds which frame the band's latest album, First Days of Spring, seems almost a wintery equinox.

An album born from lead singer and songwriter Charlie Fink's heartbreak over the collapse of a love affair with singer and former bandmate Laura Marling (though Fink deftly, and with a wry smile, skirted a confirmation when asked), First Days of Spring really isn't that far a departure from Noah and The Whale's debut, Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down. Despite its outwardly cheerier demeanor, the first release from the London-bred band also rippled with melancholy and unease. With First Days of Spring, which is also accompanied by a film that Fink directed and is preparing for the 2010 festival circuit, the band has turned out one of the most emotionally resonant and unpredictable albums of the year.

For a guy who can write about the shattering dissolution of a relationship with such poignancy, Fink is an affable, witty and earnest man who, despite his easygoing manner, has been through quite a bit this year. Noah and the Whale had most of its equipment stolen earlier this year from their bus after a gig in Manchester; save for Fink's guitar, which was in his hotel room, and an amplifier which was recovered later. It was a devastating setback. But despite broken hearts and rented equipment, Noah and the Whale has managed to soldier through the mire with a full spate of tour dates and critical accolades.

During their stopover in New York - which included a couple of gigs at Mercury Lounge - Fink and violinist Tom Hobden dropped by The Alternate Side's Studio A and played gorgeous, acoustic versions of "Blue Skies," "Slow Glass" and "I Have Nothing."

We'll have more from Noah and the Whale on The Alternate Side in the near future; you can also hear the full interview and performance of Noah and the Whale: Words and Music From Studio A on WFUV, Christmas Day at 9pm.