Kentucky seems like a perfectly reasonable place to find a band like Cage the Elephant (from Bowling Green). But coming across an exceptional punk rock band, even in the state’s largest city, is a bit of an eyebrow raiser.
From Louisville comes White Reaper, a band championed by the likes of NPR and USA Today. Indeed a podcast on the latter’s website called Dad Rock, featured the band a few months back. Co-host Jim Lenahan apparently became a fan back in the day whilst working in Louisville.
To describe White Reaper as strictly a punk band is actually a little misleading. While they play fast and raw, there is also plenty of keyboard work, as well as pop, and psychedelic influences as well as a touch of glam. Their first full album White Reaper Does it Again follows a six-song EP released in 2014. They were a trio before inviting Ryan Hater (that’s not his real name is it?) to tickle the keys.
Like many of the great punk bands of the past, there’s a decided nod to the music of the 50s and 60s. Unlike many punk bands, White Reaper can craft tunes— lots of them. Does it Again contains 11 tracks and not a dud in the lot. Oh, there are some bangers like the power cut and first single “Makes Me Wanna Die,” but tracks like “I Don’t Think She Cares” and “Pills” are just as worthy of attention. There are no weak sisters here, and while there is a cohesive sound it’s far from formulated. In some spots the keys provide the hooks, but in others, like “Alone Tonight” or “Candy,” the guitars shine through. And they’re well-played. It’s raw yes, but not sloppy. White Reaper do it again, and again.
10 Stars out of 10
PF Wilson has been writing about music, TV, radio, and movies for over 20 years. He has also written about sports, business, and politics with his work appearing in Cincinnati CityBeat, The Houston Press, Cleveland Scene, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine, Atomic Ranch, and many more. Check out his podcast PF’s Tape Recorder available from Podbean or in iTunes.