BY JASON GROSS
Some forty years ago, two great minimalist bands, the Ramones and AC/DC,
taught us that a great album (or even albums) can have the same or very
similar songs. Sad to say, many punk and rock bands heard them and thought
“me too!” when they just recycled the same crappy song again and again.
Not so with Louisville, Kentucky natives White Reaper. The scuzzy lo-fi
production fits hand in hand with the grimy songs and guitarist Tony
Esposito’s mewling voice but the garage sound is also complemented by Ryan
Hater’s keyboards which moves the sound into new wave territory too. Most
of all, if you like the catchy, powerful opener “Make Me Wanna Die,”
you’ll wanna hear it in several other forms elsewhere on the album (i.e.
on the speedier “Wolf Trap Hotel”) and hear how they trick up a great
formula again and again, even supplying new tunes elsewhere. The one
occasional annoyance is Hater’s synth sometimes sounds the same from song
to song (recalling the spacey sci-fi of Greg Hawkes from the Cars).
Luckily, most of the songs have good, catchy melodies to go along with
them and Esposito’s enthusiasm and anxiousness helps put the songs over
the top too. He/they have girl problems but not in a hateful way- they’re
cutely confused like many of their power pop heroes from the ’70s (think
the Raspberries more than Big Star). Try “Pills” and “Alone Tonight” which
sound like an indie rock take on Eric Carmen or “On Your Mind” and
“Sheila” which Jay Reatard might have covered if he had survived his
excesses or “Last 4th of July” which could be a wonderful Ramones tribute
or the jolly, swinging “Candy.” Only the unlucky “Friday the 13th” drags
things a little with its plodding tune.
With 12 songs in about a half hour, the record kind of blazes by you but
gives you plenty of room for multiple listens- it’s not a ‘deep,’ layered
record to warrant that but one that gives you a rush of grime and song
each time you do race through it. And why deny yourself a grubby, sweet
pleasure like that?
DOWNLOAD: “On Your Mind,” “Alone Tonight,” “Make Me Wanna Die”-