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White Rabbits

Fort Nightly

Produced by Chris Zane

Say Hey Records

Release: May 22, 2007

Have you ever had the experience of seeing a photo of something and knowing immediately that it was for you? Maybe you noticed a picture of a restaurant and declared it would become your new favorite, though you'd never tasted the dish depicted. Or how about seeing the cover of a book and knowing you want to read it, even though you've never even heard of the author (forgetting what they say about not judging a book by its cover)? Dear Reader, I want you to know you're far from alone. Humans rely on vision more than any sense (unless, of course, you're a human without sight, in which case this review will be relevant in just a moment, so bear with me) and so it's perfectly plausible that sight serves as a "gateway sense" for other perceptive experiences.

I saw such a picture before I heard the band in it, and regretfully I might not have had the latter experience if it weren't for the first, though I'm sure in the coming months these guys will be all over the critical scene, and rightfully so. There were six of them in the photo, leaning against a crooked red fence in the middle of fall, presumably in Central Park, dressed in blazers and sweaters and looking generally pretty lazy-cool. They were called White Rabbits, and I could tell I liked them without even hearing them. I can't say I was surprised when I discovered their music was fantastic.

Am I allowed to declare an album of the year as early as March? At a quarter of the way through the year, I guess it's a bit premature. I'll at least tell you that White Rabbits' Fort Nightly will be an absolute contender, even if half of the Beatles come back from the dead, reunite with McCartney and Starr and then team up with Radiohead to release a double-disc concept album. I guess that would be pretty tough competition, but I'll still vouch for White Rabbits with ferocity. Very rarely have I heard a band pull together so many diverse influences this successfully, and they do it so subtly they maintain the aura of cool I felt from their promotional photograph.

White Rabbits recently moved cross-country from the Midwest to the Big Apple (smart move, rock musicians) and have since signed to Say Hey Records, on which the band is releasing Fort Nightly. This debut album opens with a catchy piano riff, bright guitars, spooky background vocals, and energetic drums on "Kid On My Shoulders," which moves into an eerie and forceful chant that somehow reminded me of the guards in "The Wizard of Oz." Without a moment to breathe, the album goes into the fast-paced "The Plot," which sounds like a combination of The Strokes at their best with vocal harmonies reminiscent of early Jackson 5. "Navy Wives" is a fun tune with off-beat guitars and calypso-inspired percussion, "While We Go Dancing" sounds just like it came off an '80s disc jockey's playlist, and "I Used To Complain, Now I Don't" could be played at a (very hip) island resort. White Rabbits have garnered comparisons to artists on the famous ska label 2 Tone Records, and this analogy is especially apparent on "March of The Camels," which reminds me of The Specials' "Ghost Town." Towards the third quarter of the album, White Rabbits get even spookier, if only because of their astonishing ability to combine creepy sounds with memorable riffs and spot-on three-part harmony.

A picture's worth a thousand words. This article is worth 700, but I could talk about White Rabbits for well over a million. Check them out at http://www.whiterabbitsmusic.com, where you can have a look at the hilarious video of the cast of Broadway hit Avenue Q reviewing "Kid On My Shoulders" and read the feedback a group of eighth graders gave the band after hearing two tracks. Didn't I tell you these guys were cool? More importantly, you can also sample some of these tracks I can't stop raving about. I'm willing to bet that as soon as you hear White Rabbits, you'll have some good words of your own with which to sing their praises.