At first, it's easy to mistake the White Rabbits for just another set of New York City dance-rock hipsters in the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah tradition, but a second look reveals a quirkier and more rewarding aesthetic.
A sextet featuring two drummers and a piano player, the White Rabbits refer to their music as "honky tonk calypso," and their cheerful blend of calypso, reggae and ska rhythms, plus secondhand music hall influences and big pop hooks, strongly recalls vintage Madness circa "Our House" and the moodier, more experimental side of the Specials and Fun Boy Three, via Ted Leo & the Pharmacists. The White Rabbits began in Columbia, MO, in 2004, when college students Greg Roberts and Stephen Patterson bonded while working at a local record store. Moving to New York in 2005, Roberts (vocals and guitar) and Patterson (vocals, piano and percussion) fleshed out the White Rabbits with guitarist Alex Even, bassist Adam Russell and dual drummers Matt Clark and Jamie Levinson. Signing with Say Hey Records in the U.S. and Young Turks Records in Great Britain, the White Rabbits connected with hot New York indie producer Chris Zane (Asobi Seksu, Les Savy Fav) to record their debut album Fort Nightly. Preceded by the dramatic first single "The Plot," Fort Nightly was released in the summer of 2007. For their second album, the band teamed up with Spoon's Britt Daniel as producer; after recording in early 2009, It's Frightening was released that spring. White Rabbits worked with frequent Spoon collaborator Mike McCarthy on 2012's Milk Famous, who helped the band take its sound in a darker, heavier direction. ~ Stewart Mason, Rovi