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White Reaper

White Reaper

The Kentucky rock & roll band White Reaper started off making rambunctious garage punk that balanced bubble-gummy hooks with window-rattling energy. After a couple of releases, they took a step out of the garage to head back in time to the glittery, slickly polished AOR of the '80s on 2017's The World's Best American Band. It was a bold move and earned them a major-label deal with Elektra. Their first record for the legendary imprint, You Deserve Love, dug deeper into the '80s, adding more pop to the equation.

White Reaper was formed by singer/guitarist Tony Esposito and twin brothers Nick and Sam Wilkerson (drums and bass, respectively) while they were still teens, and the group released their first single in 2013 ("Conspirator"/"The Cut"). The band's energy and songs soon caught the ear of Polyvinyl Records, which signed White Reaper and released their self-titled, six-song EP in June 2014. Just before its release, and with the addition of Ryan Hater on keys, the band headed out on a long tour with Young Widows. Along the way they began working on material for an album, and recorded it with engineer Kevin Ratterman when they got home to Louisville. Recorded over the course of one breathless week, White Reaper Does It Again was released by Polyvinyl in the summer of 2015.

The next time White Reaper hit the studio, it was with the addition of guitarist Hunter Thompson. The band worked with Ratterman again, this time adding a healthy dose of arena rock guitar, '80s rock swagger, and more keys to their sound. The resulting album, The World's Best American Band, was released by Polyvinyl in early 2017. The band toured relentlessly and eventually signed on with major-label Elektra. They hit the studio with producer Jay Joyce, who had helmed albums by Eric Church and Cage the Elephant and doubled down on the '80s AOR worship while also adding some lighter dance-rock influences. You Deserve Love was released in late 2019 and the band headed out on tour soon afterward. ~ Tim Sendra

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