The phrase "dad rock" as an epithet for music made by/for square dudes who were probably hip in their twenties has, mercifully, gone out of style in the two years since it was minted. But it's not really a put-down to describe the new Band Of Horses track, "Whatever, Wherever" with the phrase—it's just accurate.
The song is built around the group's signature harmonies, light melodies, and breezy acoustic guitars, and the accompanying video, shot to look like it's old family vacation footage filmed on a Super 8, is what the band calls "about as day-in-the real life as we could capture." There are long sequences of the band and their families, hanging out at a cookout, playing with their kids by the pool, kicking it with their instruments in a living room, or watching the kids on a swingset. It's an intensely personal song and video—which makes the fact that it was sponsored by Sonos, and debuted in a blog post on the speaker brand's website, somewhat surprising.
The days when bands promoting their music through brands was taboo have long passed, but it's interesting that Band of Horses and Sonos picked one with so much obvious meaning to partner up on. But according to Sonos and lead singer Ben Bridwell, those personal themes are exactly why this song made sense to work on together. Sonos Executive Creative Director, Dmitri Siegel tells Co.Create that his team connected with Bridwell at SXSW this past March, and learned that Bridwell's relationship to his dad and his relationship to music were tied together intrinsically—and that's something Sonos tries to help accomplish, too. When Bridwell told Sonos that "music helped us transcend the normal father-son relationship," and that he recalled how "it would be a big deal when some new record would come out by somebody, and I'd bring it home and we'd all listen to it," Siegel immediately connected with it.
"Sharing music together is what makes a house a home, and we're always exploring ways to celebrate that," Siegel explains. "When we heard about the role of music in Ben's relationship with his father, and the story behind the band's new single, we were thrilled to support them. Bringing artists' music to the home the way it's supposed to sound is really important to our mission at Sonos, so it was really natural for us to collaborate together."
The nature of the collaboration is subtle—there's not so much as a Sonos logo in the video itself, and if there are connected wireless speakers in the frame somewhere, we didn't spot them. Rather, it's mostly just a sweet, melancholy music video for a sweet, melancholy song—that, at the end, caps off with a brief "produced by Sonos" title at the end. If you're going to bring a brand directly into your art and your home in a piece as personal as "Whatever, Wherever" (as opposed to bringing your art to the brand), keeping it present—but off in the distance—is probably the right way to do it.