In this age that seems to be ruled by an acute fist of general ignorant ambiguity, let us be grateful for groups like White Murder – who in two short years have proved themselves an intrinsic component of the ever-shrinking contingent of Los Angeles artists who still have something to say. But while any kind of “underground” may be inherently long dead and buried, White Murder opts to create a personal/political netherworld where oppression and opposition take the form of so many demons and phantoms it would make anyone shake with not just paranoia but a fuck-it-all, fun-loving nihilism.
On the high heel of three and a half critically-acclaimed seven inch singles, White Murder finally drops their debut self-titled full length that clearly raises the bar from their already scorched-Earth sweep. For those accustomed to seeing these ten songs in the group’s notorious live setting, it’s almost hard to believe these seething, pro-active tantrums have been somehow wrangled to wax from a band that is so downright physical – most notably the fishnet skinned dual hydra-headed venom of Hannah and Mary who can barely contain themselves on the stage and often find themselves more comfy singing upside-down in trashcans or being thrown into drum sets or simply writhing, pretzled into each other like spontaneous human wreckage or simply having a squirm-inducing staring contest with one or more members of the audience. Such a rarity that a band this explosive would be as tight performers as they are, so it’s really no wonder that it only took two marathon days recording at Station House Studio (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Jail Weddings) to prove all this visceral confrontation could also make one the best punk rock records of 2014.
As with any indefinable band well worth their salt, piss and vinegar – fuck labels. But to speak to all the laymen with good taste, White Murder seems to draw from a joyfully disparate trifecta of eras reluctantly defined by them – late ’70s L.A. Dangerhouse, early ’80s Rough Trade post-punk, and ’90s Kill Rock Stars for starters. Take a song like “Bad Sex” to confound matters even further, where this elemental tale of sexual abuse and revenge fantasy chops up skewed Chuck Berry riffs with drums that sound like all those satisfying cinematic canned punches. “Mirrors” could remind one of Eddie And The Subtitles recording their classic “American Society” in a rubber room with Fugazi in the controls orchestrating mass primal scream therapy. Or “From Hell” where Mary and Hannah introduce some unexpected harmonies to their usual unison, propelling tribal rhythms that bring to mind 45 Grave covering The Exploited’s “Horror Epics?” That said, White Murder’s debut full-length might be considered death-rock if it weren’t for the glaring fact that it is actually, unabashedly screaming with life.
“They create a tense, anxious world, dual female vocals twirling like a malicious caduceus – slithery, viperous. It is beautiful and jagged.” – Razorcake
“Dangerous enough to be considered punk but executed too well to be thought of as sloppy.” – Maximum Rocknroll