THE JOY OF VIOLENT MOVEMENT
Posted Thursday, May 12th, 2011 at 5:02 am
Despite their curly, fiery red hair, the Chicago, Illinois-based sibling duo of Alex White and Francis White of White Mystery will probably be unfairly (and superficially) compared another similarly known for their interpretation of loud, bluesy, garage rock inspired by the deceptive simplicity of old time rock greats such as Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and others – The White Stripes. Yes, they’re both from the Midwest. And yes, they both consist of a male and woman with one on guitar, the other on drums. But that’s where all the similarities end. Whereas the White Stripes were primarily known as the creative project of Jack White with Meg White brought along for the ride, there’s the distinct sense that the do of White Mystery is much more of a collaborative project as Francis White contributes backing vocals – usually in the form of call and response-styled yelping and harmonies, along with his drumming.
White Mystery’s sophomore effort, Blood & Venom retains the same noisy, boozy blues and free-flowing, unpredictable feel of the debut, along with Alex White’s unique voice which sounds a helluva lot like it was drenched it gut busting whiskey and packs of menthol cigarettes. It’s not quite the same comparison but I was reminded of how a critic once described the great Howlin’ Wolf’s voice as sounding like “heavy machinery being operated on a gravel road.” But to be fair, White Mystery shares something in common with that of Howlin’ Wolf – a sense of raw, primal power. Guitar lines churn, buzz and sound totally unpredictable, as though it was recorded off the cuff. And the drums sound like an explosive, thundering tide of sound. Basically, what you’ll hear on both albums is a duo that makes a lot of noise with a complete disregard to subtlety. Its seeming childishness is honestly refreshing and endearing – even the occasionally silly lyrics.
However, where Blood & Venom suffers a bit is that there’s little to differentiate it from their debut. If you pay close attention you’ll notice differences here and there. Blood & Venom has a slightly meaner, darker lyrical content with actual references to incorrigible behavior. Still Alex White is a towering, impressive presence that will force listeners to pay attention.
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