White Wives Happeners
    • THURSDAY, AUGUST 25, 2011

    • Posted by: Dominick Sorrentino

    Manipulating the basic ingredients of grunge, emo, and most domineering, punk, White Wives Happeners adds much needed zest to an alternative rock genre that has long-been at risk of no longer spawning new acts that fit our tastebuds. The group was formed after Anti-Flag's Chris Barker and Chris Head left their already well-established band to join up with Roger Harvey (Dandelion Snow) and Tyler Kweder (American Armada), after hearing some early White Wives work. The formation was borne of inspiration, and it shows in the energy of the band's debut.

    The quirkiest ingredient of Happeners is the inclusion of voice-over introductions, usually retro advertisements and public service announcements, which adds an "eff the man" element to the mix. The album opener, "Indian Summer", opens up with a Cold-War era promotion of the hydrogen bomb. Even the chanting chorus that follows is unassuming. But the chord progressions and lyrics hammer home the fusions that make it rock: "We made love to mixtapes in that cars/ We made up our own minds and we drew our own lines." The lyrics in general have many moments of the archetypal punk rock chants that have been incorporated in alternative since its beginnings, with repetition of lines such as "We reflect, We relect" and "We are, We are" in "Hungry Ghosts" or "We Will, We Will" in "Paper Chaser", and most repetitive of all, a whole lot of "Woahs" throughout.

    In spite of all these inclusions, there are enough variations in vocal arrangements and chord progressions to keep the album from becoming overly chanty. And though there are still a few fleeting chances to be static, they typically save the moment with some finishing touches, for example, by breaking up chord progressions when it's least expected. Or how the trebly yet airy inclusion of lead guitar prominent in post-rock bands like Explosions in the Sky gives each riff distinct cadence, while still clinging to a well-formulated punk-rock and grunge base. Happeners as a whole gives White Wives enough upward momentum to distinguish themselves from the typical alternative rock bands that came before them, adding some much needed punch to the genre, and to our musical diet.

    Be sure to check out our exclusive session video with White Wives for live music and interviews.

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