WHITE REAPER: THE WORLD'S BEST AMERICAN BAND
White Reaper has always been a confident band. With their 2014 self-titled EP and 2015’s White Reaper Does It Again, the Louisville, Kentucky-based four piece crafted songs full of full-force guitars and sneering lyrics. That along with the cheeky title put forth an image of rock and roll charisma that was undeniable. Their confidence in their ability to make catchy songs without compromising their punk punch has done nothing but grown over the past two years. This is evident in the title: The World’s Best American Band. That’s quite a grandiose statement for a band that’s only on their second full-length LP. But with Sam Wilkerson’s ferocious bass lines, Ryan Hater’s keyboard melodies, Nick Wilkerson’s energetic drumming, and Tony Esposito’s fierce howl, it is hard to deny the power of White Reaper.
The album opens with a crowd cheering before a chugging beat and strong bass line whisk you away in a rock and roll frenzy. “Run around and tell the gang, polish up your dusty fangs” sings Esposito in the chorus, which you can already imagine the crowd screaming along to when the band goes out on the road this spring and summer. “Judy French”, the album’s first single, follows suit. The song begins with a school bell, which is appropriate because you can imagine the song playing in a dance scene of a random teen movie from the 80s, which I say in the most endearing way possible. The guitar riff that follows is one that will stay in your head for weeks. “Judy French” is an album stand-out, as the guitar is put on overdrive and Esposito’s wails during the chorus are undeniably powerful. “Eagle Beach” is slower, but still full of sneering one-liners such as “I just wanna be a real good pair of your blue jeans.” This track also utilizes Hater’s masterful keyboard skills, which give the song atmosphere. “Little Silver Cross” is a slow burning jam that opens with a synthesizer and then, a beat later, a strong drum beat that carries the song from its slow beginning to the explosive, stadium-ready chorus. “The Stack”, which served as the third and final single leading up to the April 7 release of the album, contains optimistic lyrics such as “if you make the girls dance, the boys will dance with them. If you play the right cards, the stack will get bigger.” Their confidence shines again, and it’s difficult to imagine anyone not wanting to dance to this song. “Party Next Door” and “Crystal Pistol” continue in the same vein of their debut’s standout song “Sheila”: chugging bass lines and singalong choruses. “Tell Me” gives us a bit of glimpse of life on the road: “He likes to roll in a brand new stretch-type limo and soak up the gold from all the tickets and the tees that he’s sold.” “Daisies” puts Esposito’s howl up front, and his growls and shouts are part of what makes every song feel like a jam. Everything that makes White Reaper, well White Reaper – howling vocals, commanding bass, guitar riffs, fast drum beats – come full force in album closer “Another Day.” They are very much playing the role of a rock and roll band here: “Another day, no fuckin’ girl / another day in this bullshit world.”
White Reaper made a name for themselves by playing powerful, energetic live shows in their native Louisville, and have gained a wider audience and fanbase in the past few years with tours with their friends Twin Peaks and together PANGEA. Their previous efforts painted them as one of the most promising rock bands in recent memory. White Reaper calls itself the world’s best American band, and after listening to this album, it’s hard to disagree.
The World’s Best American Band is out on Polyvinyl Records in vinyl, cassette, CD, and streaming formats. Also catch them on the road, tour dates HERE.
photos and words by TRICIA STANSBERRY