Like everything White Reaper does, the band’s trajectory from regional act renowned for its high-intensity shows to national touring group was accomplished at the speed of 0 to 60. “We went all over the country and grew our hair out a little bit,” says guitarist/singer Tony Esposito about the past year spent on the road with the likes of Deerhoof, Young Widows, Priests, and more.
After signing to Polyvinyl in early 2014 and releasing a self-titled EP that blasts through six tracks in a breakneck 15 minutes, the Reapers — Esposito, keyboardist Ryan Hater, bassist Sam Wilkerson, and drummer Nick Wilkerson — soon began working on new material to fill out their set.
Enter White Reaper Does It Again: a raucous debut full-length from a bunch of barely 20-somethings who have more fun on a Tuesday night than you do on a Saturday. Recorded in White Reaper’s hometown of Louisville, KY, with engineer Kevin Ratterman (Young Widows, Coliseum), WRDIA is a pure rock ’n’ roll adrenaline shot: vicious guitar scratches, elastic bass, sugary keyboard leads, and a thudding drums that will inevitably give your heartbeat a new rhythm.
Opening track/lead single “Make Me Wanna Die” counts off to detonation before quickly ensnaring the listener in a melodic force field of fuzz and distortion, highlighted by Hater’s bright keyboard tones sending out signal flares through the haze. Esposito’s punk snarl takes centre stage on “I Don’t Think She Cares,” a two-minute ripper that romps and stomps like a certain girl on a certain guy’s heart.
Far from pausing to take a breath, the record’s b-side is just as eager to accommodate those with a beer in one hand and a limitless fount of energy to burn. Take “Sheila,” a track that displays thinly veiled restrained on its verses before exploding in a thrashing chorus over which the titular name is shouted gleefully.
As with their previous material, before entering the studio Esposito put together demos of all the tracks before sending them to his bandmates to flesh out their parts. The band then held reign over Ratterman’s La La Land space for a little over a week, arriving at noon and staying late into the night — a schedule that left everyone as giddily exhausted as the crowd at, well, a White Reaper show.
Not sure what that feels like? Crank this record at full volume — and then turn it up a bit more — and you’ll find out soon enough.