Written as an aside to having lost a slot opening for The King Khan & BBQ Show on the grounds that the band's music was "too depressing," WVWhite's "Drag Down" sets the pace for the Columbus, Ohio, quartet's second album, House Of The Spiritual Athletes. But something a little more involved is happening here: We're not only listening to a band hone in on its sound for the foreseeable future, but also hearing the manifestation of a two-generation indie-rock family tree.
Singer-guitarist Tyler Travis worked with his father, Mike (formerly a member of '90s Ohio indie-rock groups like Gunshy Ministers and Bush League All-Stars), who produced, engineered and mixed his son's band in his living room. "My dad had a huge CD collection and was constantly playing music at the house non-stop," says Tyler, who also recalls a childhood where "musical instruments [were] strung around on sofas and counters at all times," within the budding musician's reach. "My father turned me on to my favorite bands of all time: Sparklehorse, The Replacements, Mercury Rev, Galaxie 500, Built To Spill. I really owe a lot to him."
Having a sympathetic ear to the times doesn't hurt either, and it's easy to hear the tinny reliability of early Pavement and the gritty fuzz of the Grifters seeping out of the sides of "Drag Down." Maybe it's easier to approach this sound from the vantage point of a second-generation artist who took all of that compromised audio fidelity and made it his own — what's done with all that noise is what counts.
WVWhite's 2013 debut showed a young band (its members yet to reach their 20s) trying on a number of shades against Travis' durable, hangdog rasp. The time for indecision is now over: House Of Spiritual Athletes brings the whole affair down to his level. For some of you, it'll sound like 1993 never ended.
House Of The Spiritual Athletes comes out April 21 via Anyway.