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Judy G.

CD of The Week

Week of 1/30/23

    White Reaper - Asking For A Ride (Elektra)

    Despite their major label status and the (rather cheeky) title of their second album, The World’s Best American Band, Louisville’s White Reaper are an easy band to root for. This is primarily because they have found surprising commercial success making music indebted to bands such as Cheap Trick and Thin Lizzy aren’t considered as relevant or “cool” at this current moment. Despite its lengthy gestation, Asking for a Ride thankfully does not change the band’s emphasis on riffs, hooks, and swagger.

    Asking for a Ride kicks off into high gear with the title track and “Bozo,” two of the heaviest, fastest songs of White Reaper’s career. Both provide a great fix of brainless, head-banging adrenaline, but the next song, the classic hard rock homage, “Fog Machine,” is the real winner on the album. Featuring an irresistible chorus, a steady rhythm, and awesome dueling guitar solos, the song exudes arena-ready confidence. A subversive wink is evident in the production and lyrics, but there’s no hint of parody. Instead, the band sounds akin to early Weezer if Rivers Cuomo’s songs contained actual sonic influences from his “favorite rock group Kiss” instead of mere lyrical references.

    The best songs on the remainder of the album strike the same rousing, slightly tongue-in-cheek tone. “Pink Slip,” “Crawlspace,” and “Thorn,” are all great power pop tunes with forceful instrumentation and catchy choruses. Meanwhile, the single “Pages,” features an acoustic intro that effectively builds into a truly anthemic conclusion in just over two-and-a-half minutes. However, a few songs don’t have the same impact as the atmospheric power ballad, “Heaven or Not” proves to be an awkward fit with Tony Esposito’s raspy vocals and “Funny Farm” tips too far into macho silliness with self-consciously “metal” guitar work and lyrics such as “I terrorize every demon in Hell.”

    All in all, Asking for a Ride is not the band’s most consistent record (that would be 2017’s The World’s Best American Band), but the highs are enough to make you wish for a true comeback of slick, good-natured, hard rock with White Reaper leading the charge. They’re still worth rooting for, even if the band can’t quite be considered underdogs anymore.

    White Reaper will be in Philadelphia playing at Underground Arts on March 18th, where these songs will likely slay live.

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    Review by Sol

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