On first listen to “The Plot”, the first single off of White Rabbits’ debut album Fort Nightly (Say Hey Records), you might think you’ve found another group to follow in the well-trod footsteps of The Strokes and Franz Ferdinand. The guitar riffs, aggressive drums, and even the vocals, down to the “whoa”s have that rock feel that swept through indie rock only a few years ago, but just like Lewis Carroll’s character, there’s a lot more than initially meets the eye with White Rabbits.
The debut comes from a new set of immigrants to the NYC/Brooklyn music scene, a six-piece band with multiple drum sets and piano accompaniment that drives the heart of the album. From the onset of the first track, “Kid on my Shoulders”, one of the more pleasing songs of the past year, in company only with songs from more established bands, the piano steps in with a simply evil riff that gives the song the first of many hooks. The song isn’t afraid to veer from the successful formula it establishes at the onset, progressing to different points and in the end becoming a sort of drunken bar chantey, probably sung by pirates.
Other songs take on ska undertones, while the style of the piano ranges between vaudevillian, calypso, and something out of Elvis Costello. Throughout all the tracks, they manage to hold the gravity of the song while injecting brighter notes throughout. “While We Go Dancing” is a great example of this tightrope walk, keeping an underlying bass line that sounds like Arcade Fire, then transitioning to piano riffs and a chorus that ventures into Kinks territory.
Given the amazing layering of sounds, from the multiple vocalists to the variety of percussion that never sounds formulaic, not to mention fun guitar chords and a dominating sound from the piano, White Rabbits sound like a band that will put on some great live shows. It’s hard to find a single weak track in the bunch, and there’s a beautiful cohesiveness between each song, so that no one tune steps on the others’ toes. If you can make it past the awesomeness that is “Kid on my Shoulders” without feeling let down, the rest of the album will come through as a debut that should see heavy rotation on your speakers. - Eric Silver