Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pure Evil

whitefang
I reviewed White Fang's debut CD for the Oregonian not too long ago. Here's what I turned in since it's not online.

What kind of punk band boasts six drummers and percussionists? Make no mistake, they may wear neon instead of black, but it's still dirty and White Fang is certainly a punk band. All those drummers don't even play in synch or keep regular time. These homegrown 18-20-year-olds simply are intent on making an experiment out of each of the 22 minutes on their first album.

Shouted lyrics about dreams of breakfast in a shattered punk house ("Breakfast") and sudden dynamic changes give Pure Evil a unique aesthetic that's perhaps best embodied by the album's art and production. The cover features a color live photo with half-finished black and white drawings by vocalist Erik Gage of animals from a genetic experiment or an acid trip. And with the heavier, distorted guitar and bass subdued in the mix and clean chords or an innocent lead doodle out front as on "All's Cool," the album's sound is similarly disjointed, weird and cute, always striving for bright over brutal.

Within this constraint, White Fang is quite creative, slowly merging nostalgic strums into a chord progression borrowed from a marimba group that builds into near cacophony on the instrumental "We're Reborn." But the greatest achievement of Pure Evil's artificial and goofy style is the album's almost Zen-like sense of now. As the lone verse of "New Loudness" channels White Light/White Heat and the lazy pseudo-ska with blissfully off-key singing of "Green Beanz" recalls 40oz. to Freedom, it's easy to see how most of the rest of Pure Evil stands on its own as a sophisticated, flawed and beautifully temporary moment.

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