White Reaper Valley Bar Phoenix Jun 28 World’s Best American Band
What makes a band an “American band”?
It seems the Grand Funk Railroad poets cracked the code in 1973, when they sang, “We’re an American band / We’re coming to your town / We’ll help you party.”
American bands don’t really copyright the party theme. When it comes to debauchery, our European cohorts often beat us. But make the theme of their songs the party itself? This is one of the defining characteristics of an American band.
It’s hard not to think about it while listening to White Reaper’s stellar new album. Hailing from Louisville, the White Reaper are classic rock ‘n’ rollers. They’re not the kind of musicians who talk about their love for Can and synth pop obscuro in interviews, as their record collections start with Cheap Trick and end with Thin Lizzy. They play loud rock songs about the girls and the party, songs that sound best when blasted through a car’s stereo at high speed.
And the name of their new album? The best American band in the world.
For most bands to call themselves “The Best American Band in the World” would be an ironic statement. White Reaper is not like most bands. Every song on In the world Best American Group it looks like they are making an argument to claim that status.
To give you an idea of this band’s rock music era, the album’s opening track begins with a crowd noise (like the one you’d hear on Kiss Alive!) and ends with a school bell (Alice Cooper’s call). And then “Judy French,” one of the best rock songs of the year, comes to life with a guitar riff that sounds like the love child of Rush and Eddie Van Halen. You can just imagine the countless smoke seshes in vans this song will inspire, not to mention all the air guitaring and air drumming it practically begs you to do as it plays.
The rest of the disc unfolds like a feverish recreation of Dazed and confused rock & roll. There probably won’t be another record released this year that sounds less out of date. Not a single note on The best American band in the world it feels like it couldn’t have been made until 2017. You could teleport that record to 1976 and songs like “Crystal Pistol” and “Eagle Beach” wouldn’t sound out of place on rock radio.
And yet, there’s something intriguing about the album’s timeless sound. On paper, this should send like a total nostalgia trip, but it beats and beats with relevance. Maybe that’s partly because it’s reminiscent of sounds and a worldview that haven’t had much prominence in underground music for a long time.
“Borrowed nostalgia for the forgotten 80s” has dominated modern music for quite some time – few people consciously seek out Molly Hatchet and other 70s rockers for inspiration.
The tradition that White Reaper comes from comes from a time when epic riffs, muscle riffs, skirt chasing and cheap local beer erasing were everything. An era of perfect stoned meathead music, when David Lee Roth still roamed the Earth with a head full of hair. Sometimes the underground paid homage to that era of power pop and proto-buttrock: The Replacements did Kiss covers, Weezer shouted Ace Frehley in his songs, and Big Black turned Cheap Trick’s “He’s A Whore” into music. knotty industrial. shredding party. Hell, The Hold Steady would fashion an entire career out of old Sprinsteen and Thin Lizzy albums for parts they could merge with their old Husker Du albums, creating a modern rock soundtrack for Craig Finn’s poetic tales.
The difference between White Reaper and these other bands is their overall, non-ironic acceptance of being an “American band”. These aren’t The Hold Steady, old school indie rockers putting quotes around old school rock and roll. There’s no sense of critical distance in their love and emulation of these kinds of tracks, and it pays off in their music. That’s why songs like “The Stack” are so powerful: they don’t try to impress you with their taste and intelligence. It’s like they say in this song: they’re just trying to make music that the girls will dance to. And what could be more American than that?
White Reaper plays Wednesday, June 28 at Valley Bar.