Words by Brian Salvatore
White Reaper Does It Again, the debut LP from White Reaper, wastes no time kicking you in the teeth. The Louisville based band has trimmed all the fat off of these 12 songs, each one of which boasts a soaring melody, a pounding rhythm section, and some frenzied guitar playing. The production is dirty and raw, trying its best to replicate the sound and energy of a live show which, for the most part, the record does quite well.
With the keyboard melodies, it can be easy to reference the Cars as a touchstone for White Reaper, but the Cars sound like muzak compared to the slab of distortion and energy that emanate from this record. They are also not the songwriters that Ric Ocasek and co. are, which leads to many of the tracks sounding very similar, and running together over the course of the record. “Last Fourth of July,” the album’s shortest song, is also its strongest; the vocals are out front, and the melody more closely resembles a Motown track than a Ramones song.
The band has no problem mixing an incredibly hooky vocal on top of a punk/garage bed, and on “Candy,” by the second verse, the melody is second nature, nicely reinforced by a lead guitar line. “Friday the 13th” is one of the few tracks that, at least initially, really separates itself from the pack, mood wise. Beginning with a cheesy synthetic organ sound, the track is slightly slower, but no less intense than the others on the record. Instrumentally, drummer Nick Wilkerson is the superstar on the record, taking the tracks over the top with his propulsive playing.
If anything, the album suffers a little from the listener’s fatigue that sets in about 8 tracks in – no song disappoints, but there isn’t a ton of variation here. This is partly why their self titled EP worked so well; there wasn’t time to get weary of the sound before the record was over. But for a band that can so seamlessly weave together melody and energy, the record is just a flyer to get you into the live gig, as Mike Watt once said. Based on this record, the gigs will be quite packed going forward.
‘White Reaper Does It Again’
© July 17th, 2015
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