White Reaper are a Kentucky garage rock band that made some waves in 2014 with their self-titled EP release. From that moment on, I was a fan. White Reaper brought an attitude and energy to that EP as if the world was for their taking. A year after that EP, White Reaper released their first full length album “White Reaper Does It Again”, and they certainly did. I have played that album probably 100 times by now and to this day it remains in my car’s 6 CD disc changer. For me, “White Reaper Does It Again” is the best garage rock and lo-fi punk album to come out this decade and it is such a fast and fun listen that I have yet to get tired of it.
Obviously, White Reaper’s next album, “The World’s Best American Band” was hotly anticipated by me this year.
However, with the very first song I had to gather myself because this was certainly a different White Reaper than what I was used to. Gone were the rough around the edges garage rock and punk from their previous releases. Now, my ears were picking up classic and ’80s rock influences, influences from bands such as Thin Lizzy and Van Halen. I was disheartened for a moment, missing the barrage of punk guitar chords, the fuzzed out recording, and the heavily synthesized keyboard work from band member Ryan Hater.
The first track on the album, “The World’s Best American Band” certainly makes this change a loud statement. For one, it is White Reaper’s longest song to date coming it at nearly 5 minutes which is a pretty big difference compared to the under 3 minute songs fans are used to. Second, I could actually understand vocalist/guitarist Tony Esposito’s vocals, which believe me even after listening to the previous album 100 times I still struggled to do. And all of the differences in instrumentation and style are apparent on this track.
I then remembered that this isn’t the first time White Reaper have changed their sound. I distinctly remember coming from the EP into their first album that I missed a lot of the style that was on that EP, but as I said “White Reaper Does It Again” quickly grew on me and now I love it.
The same thing happened this time around as well.
After the opening track, we do get some tastes of the past White Reaper, but honestly I have grown to love the changes the band have made. It really is one good track after another on this record. Songs like “The World’s Best American Band”, “The Stack”, “Tell Me”, and “Daisies” totally deliver on the classic rock & roll sound White Reaper are going for while still maintaining the energy and uniqueness that made the band so great in the first place. The songwriting from beginning to end is fantastic with catchy choruses and melodies and balls-to-the-wall rock & roll swagger. This album blazes by just as much as White Reaper’s previous efforts, making it so easy to keep replaying it over and over.
The guitar is now more focused on riffs and taking a backseat to the other instruments, the synthesized keyboards have been traded in for piano or more traditional keys, and the rhythm section provided by brothers Sam and Nick Wilkerson gets more of a spotlight. Also added into the mix is an additional guitarist, Hunter Thompson, who allows from some nice duel guitar moments.
Once I changed my mindset regarding what to expect out of White Reaper this time around, “The World’s Best American Band” started to shine. With each listen the album grows on me, and I think it very well may reside in my 6 CD disc changer for a long time once I get a physical copy. What else can I say but, White Reaper did it again… again!