White Reaper Does it Again
Polyvinyl Records, 2015
Well, they’ve done it again. What it is they’ve done, I can’t say for sure. I guess that depends on what they did before. Anyway, what I can say, from what I know about them: led by singer/guitarist Tony Esposito, who plays a mean solo. Along with keyboardist, Ryan Hater, and a rhythm section led by the Wilkerson brothers: Nick and Sam, drums and bass, respectively, this quartet recently signed with Chicago uber-label, Polyvinyl, in the early part of 2014 and put out a debut which was an EP: six tracks in a fast and furious 15 minutes, they decided that they’d put out a full-length and this is the result.
The album starts with “Make Me Wanna Die”, a kind of punk-rock love song, in a post-post-modern vein. Some other highlights include “Pills”, “On Your Mind” and “Last 4th of July”.
Listening to it a second, even third time, gave me a better sense of the hipness of the album and where they were going with this. I am glad I stuck it out with them. I feel that more fulfilled for doing so.
The second half of White Reaper Does it Again keeps the intensity alive and the tenor doesn’t slow down or get stale. Songs like “Alone Tonight”, a pop-rock album that has some more cojones to it and “Candy” are proof positive.
There’s something about it that is catchy – the hooks, the way the vocals are recorded -kind of turned down a bit, with the guitar, bass and the bombastic drums, overtaking it somewhat. There’s also a great guitar solo on it. Then, another pleasant surprise is “Candy”, a head-bobbing, devil-may-care tune that isn’t really about anything -I mean, politically or socially or some sort of polemic, etc. It’s just a nice rock ‘n’ roll tune about a chick named Candy. This tune shows off White Reaper’s rougher side a bit more. There’s also a killer guitar riff-hook that permeates the tune.
As with the album’s cover, which shows a picture of a left hand grasping the steering wheel of a car, White Reaper Does it Again is just that – a great album to have in the car when driving around -especially really fast, like, on the freeway! I wouldn’t say it’s a “traveling” album as much as I would say that it’s a “driving fast, like on your way to your girlfriend’s house” or a “beer-run” album. The pumped-up machismo pop feels like it could almost make one a better driver, just by giving one the extra confidence one needs to drive fast and still do it well.
“Sheila” and “Friday the 13th” also have this hardened rock-pop that’s definitely built for speed. Then, just as soon as you think you’ve heard the coolest of it, “Wolf Trap Hotel” starts up. It’s another crafty tune that grabs you by the shirt and shakes you up. Mashed melodies, cool synth hooks, chunka-chunka-guitar riffs, and a rock-steady beat all at a sped-up tempo make for an exciting tune. The finale is an ode to that maniac serial killer of recent vintage, “BTK”. It has a hard and fast tempo, a raw tone and a quick, drop-dead ending that ends the record just right. For more information and to buy a copy -hard copy or an MP3 download, go to https://www.polyvinylrecords.com, where you can also check out the rest of their great catalog. -KM.