Before they were JBE Triple A Awards New Artist of the Year nominees, White Reaper was a duo of friends in a Louisville, KY high school, but only briefly. Once they found each other, guitarist Tony Esposito and drummer Nick Wilkerson invited Nick’s twin Sam to join on bass, then quickly welcomed keyboardist Ryan Hater. Two years later they found themselves signed to Polyvinyl, released the eponymous EP White Reaper and hit the road. Their first full-length, White Reaper Does It Again arrived in 2015 as did the addition of a second guitarist, Hunter Thompson, rounding out to the current lineup. In an admitted stroke of goofiness, they released The World’s Best American Band before signing with Elektra in 2019.
Self-described goofballs or not, they make seriously spirited music skirting the edge where Pop and Punk merge. Smash single “Might Be Right” from their latest, You Deserve Love rocketed to #1 on the US Alternative chart, and made a strong impression on Triple A reaching #2, not to mention earning a JBE Triple A Song of the Year nomination. Then again, that’s to be expected from “The World’s Best American Band.”
A long way from the garage, You Deserve Love is effervescent all the way through from the aptly-named opening “Headwind” to the closer and title track “You Deserve Love.” The aforementioned smash “You Might Be Right” is still going strong at KRVB, WVOD, and KCSN while many of the same stations and also WRLT, WZEW, and Music Choice are sharing latest single, “Real Long Time” with their listeners. And White Reaper deserves it.
Photo by Grace Lillash