Garage rock psychedelic slacker heroes White Fang’s High Expectations EP gets an international release, Carrie Quartly explains why it’s 15 minutes you’ll want to relive over and over again.
Portland’s White Fang is Erik Gage, Kyle Handley, Jimmy Leslie, and Chris Uehlein, and together they are probably the definitive DIY band – bedroom recording, live basement jams, booking their own tours, and even running their own small cassette label Gnar Tapes and Shit.
In spite of (or perhaps because of) being fun-loving, carefree clowns mutually inspired by a passion for recreational reefer tokes, nothing feels artificial or forced about White Fang, and their slacker anthems are mini masterpieces, as thrilling and immediate as any life changing teenage catharsis.
Although the latest EP High Expectations has been available on cassette through the amazing Burger Records since June last year, February sees it getting an international release as an LP on the Metal Postcard label, and is also scheduled to be available on CD next month.
If you’re not already familiar with White Fang, the acid neon tie dye colour scheme of the High Expectations cover art goes a long way towards cluing you in, looking like a collection of stoned up hippie car bumper decals – complete with little green alien, pot leaf, US flag emblazoned peace symbol, and hot dog.
Contained within this short and scuzzy collection are lo-fi nuggets of pure garage rock gold as sweet as the fresh, aromatic fruitiness of a new weed harvest.
The opening track “Coffee Table” is like an instant bong hit high with it’s super catchy riff and the distorted assault of Erik Gage’s vocals about (as the title suggests), various post-party detritus arranged like a still life on his coffee table.
“You Can’t Deal With Being Real” is a sneery rocker taking aim at fakers, while “Wrecked” is a fuzzed-out sludge orgy which sounds like a bad hangover, the kind that at least warmly reminds you of what a great time you had the night before, and is very persuasive in it’s glorification of getting fucked up.
“Strange Feeling” is next, driven along by a great, swaggering, feel-good classic rock style guitar lick recalling Cheap Trick at their best. I think I’d be suspicious of anyone not reaching to turn the volume up at this point…
“Christopher’s Dick” is a laid-back, humourous strum-along about friends hanging out who share most things whether they like it or not, while “In the Band” tightens the pace again, a tantalisingly brief toe-tapper of sunny guitar melodies and spaced-out vocals summarising the joys of being in the band!
“Pissing in the Driveway” reminds me of the skater angst of some of the Positive Feedback album cuts, an eerie raging shred with some brief metal-y twin guitar duels. Again, it perfectly embodies the nauseous, unsettled feeling immediately following a night of excess. “I feel like pissing in the driveway, I think I might have to throw up, too…” I particularly like the falsetto “pissing” refrain, which is not a word I imagine many people would sing along with, but I do!
“Far Out Journey” closes High Expectations in a sprawling blissed-out glory of stoner psychedelia, with swirling Gary Numan-esque synths undulating around a floating haze of strung out vocals, crashing drum fills and reverbed guitars. A true anthem, and bound to be one of 2013’s song highlights when it reaches international ears in all formats next month!
White Fang obviously have a primitive youthful and reckless abandon on the surface, yet also display surprising creativity and are sometimes capable of great sensitivity as songwriters (see Positive Feedback’s “Unchain Your Brain” or Erik Gage and Kyle Handley offshoot The Memories). There is a brevity to their songs (over 2 minutes would be unusually long for them), but it’s never frustrating, as there’s always a bit of magic to lure the listener in for repeat plays, whether it’s a cool guitar line or a cooing vocal or their ridiculously funny lyrics…So go on, take that 4D bong hit to gnarly Gnaria.
Chill out with White Fang on Facebook here, and the puerile content of their Twitter feed is also highly recommended and usually makes me smile.
And, if like me, you can’t get enough White Fang/Gnar tapes related projects, check out Free Weed & Unkle Funkle.
All words by Carrie Quartly, you can read more of her writing on the site here.