The band would prefer that listeners figure it out for themselves.

Who do they sound like?

It's one of the first questions that comes to mind when approaching a new band. Name-dropping an influential act from the past is one of the easiest ways to explain a band's sound, though a comparison can serve as both a promotion and a condemnation.

For Northern California sextet Whirr, who will play The Big Top tonight, the comparison that litters every trendsetter blog blurb is usually My Bloody Valentine, but you could sub in any band labeled "shoegaze" and get the same message across. "It's definitely redundant," says Whirr lead guitarist Nick Bassett, throwing out other acts Whirr is often likened to without having to think about it. Bassett says the answer to incessant comparisons isn't anything more than ignoring them. He also thinks the references are inaccurate, and that Whirr is more influenced by Dinosaur Jr. and doom metal bands. Bassett is formerly of metal band Deafheaven.

Still, the comparisons aren't far off considering Whirr's affinity for droning ambience, but the group has already shot off in a different direction. It's not as easy to throw labels at latest EP Around, which is noticeably darker than Whirr's past work — evident with the opening track. What follows is an exercise in creating spacious, atmospheric jams that are more sentient than standard shoegaze loopiness. Each song reaches anywhere between about 6 to 9 minutes in length, as faint vocal melodies barely permeate ever-evolving guitar lines, proving over and over again that Whirr is a little too perfect of a name. It's the type of music that offers different sounds to linger on, only for another to inconspicuously fade in and take lead.

Bassett says Around was meant as a winter release, which partly explains the melancholic turn from more airy, vibrant tracks on past LPs. That progression wasn't anything intentional, Bassett adds, though an impending new album aimed for release early next year will most likely feature the same moody elements from Around.

Writing denser, more-drawn out songs also signaled an evolving live performance for Whirr. "Back then, we just set up and play," Bassett says. "There's a new aesthetic now. We're figuring out what we actually want to do as a band. Creating an atmosphere is more important than playing songs like they sound on the record."

Whichever way Whirr decides to go next, and whichever inevitable comparisons make their away around the Internet, Bassett is clear on how he wants potential new listeners to get to know Whirr: "I'd tell them to figure it out themselves."