Album Review: White Reaper – White Reaper

white_reaper_stLouisville, Kentucky’s latest band spawn doesn’t carry the slightest whiff of bluegrass or the faintest whisper of country charm. White Reaper leaves the acoustic ramblings in the dust with their self-titled debut EP via Polyvinyl Records. The trio is comprised of Tony Esposito on vocals/guitar and double your pleasure, double your fun twin brothers, Nick (drums) and Sam (bass) Wilkerson. The group’s sound falls somewhere on the spectrum between your older brother’s garage punk band and an underground grungy club cranking out at 2am. I cite neither as disrespect to these punk revivalists, as both sound cool as hell to me.

Each track recording is less than perfection, but aesthetic dissonance works for a group who finds accomplishment in the form of decibels and tinnitus. Often enough, the drums, guitar, bass, and vocals come together to form the brain-melting phenomenon that is garage punk, but these boys have a keen sense of timing—just at the brink of your ear drum bursting, they switch out the noise for the melodic harmony of the keyboard, even a tambourine. White Reaper does a seamless job blending punk and surf rock together. The transition is always gradual with some songs more heavily influenced by one genre than the other. Esposito laments in simplistic styles and doesn’t bog down any song with catchy hooks that you’ll find yourself singing in the shower. Instead he keeps the lyrics as modest as the track titles (Case in point: “Cool,” “Funn,” and “Ohh (Yeah)”). Any lyrics that do tend to stick around will most certainly be from the final track, “Ohh (Yeah).” But don’t get too attached as they’ll surely be rattled loose when you back it up and thrash to “She Wants To” and “Conspirator.”  Honestly, why try to scream during a hurricane?

Top three songs kick off the EP as “Cool,” Funn,” and “Half Bad.” Esposito breaks out a short lived, but badass riff about a minute into Cool which lives up to its track title name. Listening to “Conspirator,” even from my laptop on the comfort of my couch, it’s hard not to be transported into crowd of head banging misfits shoulder to shoulder in a dimly lit basement club with t-shirts drenched in so much sweat you could ring them out. “Ohh (Yeah)” rounds out the album as a tune that finishes much like the album started. These bookends feel more like a summer road trip cruising in a topless Jeep than a bruised mosh pit soaked in PBR and perspiration.

There’s a fine line between outdated and revitalized. Taking a classic concept and adding a modern edge is what this young culture of garage rockers are busting out. As boisterous and erratic as White Reaper’s approach, they never sound threatening; much like the name of their group—slightly menacing but without the dark edge. There’s a time and place for White Reaper. That time is anytime you’re feeling like a badass. Whether you’re slipping on some board shorts or zipping up your leather jacket, these tunes will surely compliment your renegade summer.

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