Those who regularly read online news regarding up and coming indie bands may have come across a music video for White Reaper’s song “Last 4th of July” earlier this month. In the one minute and twenty second promo, two young men are shown smashing junked cars with sledge hammers in glorious slow motion. The footage of automobiles being destroyed paired with White Reaper’s frenetically paced, short-but-sweet track make for a beautiful marriage. With its THUMPTHUMPTHUMP bass drum fills, and vocals that rapidly build to an outstanding crescendo, the quick ditty serves as an ideal primer for the impatient and uninitiated. Folks who saw the clip and decided they needed more won’t be disappointed. White Reaper Does It Again delivers twelve outstanding garage punk anthems reminiscent of King Tuff, Audacity, and the late Jay Reatard.
As the songs roll out, each one seems to build on the momentum of the previous without losing its uniqueness. White Reaper’s lead singer, Tony Esposito, is extremely intuitive and has that rare ability to twist vowels at whim, making common words sound new and cool. He uses this skill to great effect on the record’s strongest song “Sheila”, altering the repeatedly shouted one-word-chorus to sound more like “She-lay”. Two-thirds into the same song, Tony lets out a gut-wrenching howl that, in the context of the album as a whole, makes it seem as if he had been working up to the moment since the LP’s opening number. A handful of tracks feature an analog-sounding synthesizer that at times serves to enhance a guitar solo, add a Ric Ocasek-like touch, or provide an eerie John Carpenter vibe. Many of the songs are fleshed out even further with the addition of a tambourine, intensifying the chunking pound of Nick Wilkerson’s drum kit.
The overall impression of White Reaper’s first full-length record is, in my personal experience, best compared to a scene near the end of the 1985 science fiction comedy classic Back to the Future. In it, the film’s protagonist, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), has traveled back in time and is playing guitar onstage at the dance where his parents are due to have their first kiss. If his parent’s don’t kiss, Marty will cease to be. Just as Marty’s parents are slow dancing and history is unfolding as it should, a bully unexpectedly cuts-in on Marty’s father, interfering with fate. Marty collapses and begins to disappear. It looks as if all hope is lost until Marty’s father, George McFly (Crispin Glover), steps up and victoriously pushes the bully to the floor, simultaneously securing the kiss and his son’s existence. A newly revitalized Marty snaps into sentience. Guitar now firmly in hand, he springs to his feet, leaping into consciousness, born anew. The moments just after Marty is snatched from the clutches of oblivion, and literally thrown back into the world of the living, embody the excitement I had after putting on White Reaper Does It Again. It’s a great album that’s well worth your time. It might even save your life. Don’t sleep on this one.