Friday, February 18, 2011

Album Review - Situationist EP

White Wives - Situationist EP (Lock And Key Collective, 2011)

I first heard of White Wives when I saw them open for Fake Problems last December and I have eagerly awaited recorded output since then. White Wives is a side project started by Chris #2, bassist and backing vocalist for Anti-Flag, and rounded out by Chris Head (also of Anti-Flag) and members of The Code, American Aramada and Dandelion Snow.

I had expected the band to sound more like Anti-Flag, but I was quite surprised. The sound is closer to that of guitarist/backing vocalist Roger Harvey's main band, Dandelion Snow, but a bit harder. Hard to compare them to other bands, but I would say the closest would be bands like Sunny Day Real Estate and the later output of Brand New, but without the sporadic outbursts of the latter.

The format of the band is interesting. They have the standard drummer, bassist and guitarist. But in addition to that Chris #2 occasionally puts down his guitar to play a second, simplified drum kit while singing. In addition to backing vocals and occasionally leading vocals, Harvey plays both an effects-heavy third guitar and an acoustic guitar. There's also some keyboards but I can't tell who is playing those parts (I don't remember seeing or hearing it live).

The songs have a punk feel while straying far from the 3-chord simplicity of the genre's early days. The overlapping guitars and keyboards give the impression of a soundscape where there really isn't one, an intriguing vibe that I can't get enough of. Despite the non-stop guitar noise and thundering drums, the bass is often crisply clear. The vocals are at their best, in my opinion, on the EP's opener, "Hungry Ghosts," in which Chris #2 and Harvey work together perfectly, along with some backing harmonies from the guitar and bass players. The band's experimentation of sound is at its peak on the closer, a haunting cover of The Pixies' "Where Is My Mind."

I looked forward to this EP for 2 months, and I was pleased to be so well rewarded. Check them out, you can hear the EP on Lock And Key Collective's Bandcamp page (where, at the time I'm writing this, you can get the EP for free or for a donation). I really hope they record more in the future. Preferably a full-length, as a 4-song EP isn't enough for such a promising band.

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