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Saturday, June 25, 2011

White Wives - Happeners

White Wives - Happeners
2011, Adeline Records/EastWest Records

White Wives are something of a Western Pennsylvania super group.  Anti-Flag's Chris Barker and Chris Head, Dandelion Snow's Roger Harvey and American Armada's Tyler Kweder craft a sound born of their distinct and varying influences that fails to sound quite like any of their day-to-day projects.  White Wives' debut album, Happeners, due June 28, 2011,  doesn't really sound like a side-project from any of the bands named above, mixing active guitars, an eccentric vocal style and solid energy.

Happeners opens with the first single, "Indian Summer, Indian Summer".  The song kicks off with a documentary-style clip commemorating the first nuclear bomb test in the U.S.  This sets the tone for a song about finding your way in the world, playing off teen angst against possibility over catchy riffs and a driven guitar sound.  "Sky Started Crying is catchy, building in intensity into each chorus, where White Wives show a pleasing mix of melodicism and hard rock drive.  "Hungry Ghosts" shows a Nirvana-style grunge sound that is tempered by the band's melodicism and buoyant sound.  "Hallelujah, I'm Morning" has an incipient energy that is undeniably, capturing the desire to fill music with the passion of a teenager.  This musical exploration of musical roots has an inspiring quality to it, an uplifting anthem to remind anyone who's ever strapped on a guitar or braved an open mic why they did it.

"Let It Go" strips things down just a bit, allowing a memorable melody and solid chorus to take over and carry the song.  There's a communal, feel-good vibe to the song that's undeniable, and White Wives proves that their stylistic range is a bit wider than you might, at first, expect.  White Wives then close up shop with the image-filled but ultimately lost "Like A Runaway Slave".  The song starts with promise, but fails to convert on that promise in the end, falling into a repetitive and vaguely shiny cadence that drives the chorus.

Happeners reflects White Wives as a major label act in Indie clothing.  There are some fine moments on the album, but there is also a distinct sense that the band is being guided toward a marketable sound rather than writing entirely to what they know.  At their best, White Wives craft a singular sound that is fresh and biting, if not entirely unique.  At the other end of the spectrum are the songs that sound just too much like too many other post-modern bands who can't figure out how to blend the whiny intellectualism of R.E.M. with the crisply driven Alt-rock style they aspire to. 

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about White Wives at www.wearewhitewives.comHappeners hits the streets on June 28, 2011.  You can pre-order the album on CD or Vinyl from  Digital pre-orders are available via iTunes.

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