White Reaper Credit: Jesse DeFlorio

In April, downstate-Illinois indie label Polyvinyl released the second album from Louisville power-pop act White Reaper, The World’s Best American Band. Regardless of whether or not there will ever be a clear consensus that any group is worthy of such a title (probably not), White Reaper certainly play like they believe they’re the greatest band from these 50 states. Their frictionless melodies, muscular riffs, and triple-horsepower propulsion could pass for the type of heartland 70s rock ‘n’ roll that still pumps blood into otherwise listless Clear Channel “classic rock” stations. But White Reaper carry themselves with a je ne sais quoi that’s thoroughly modern—Tony Esposito’s sweetened snarl sounds as much like a reaction to a youth spent in dingy DIY spaces as it does a deep affection for Cheap Trick’s restorative sense of triumph. White Reaper know how to weld together power-pop’s past, punk might, and whiplash-smart songwriting, and they do so with precision. If they could bottle up and sell the brief synth-washed bridge on outstanding single “Judy French” to other bands, rock just might feel new again.   v