Kicking off with the deliciously noisy cacophony of "The Stinger," Harlem
, the debut disc of Denton quartet White Drugs, is such a punch to the eardrums, it makes Iggy Pop seem like a folk singer. Harlem
is a witches' brew of bashing drums, relentless guitars and, of course, singer/guitarist Christian Breit's snarl of a voice, like the aforementioned Pop singing with someone's hand around his throat. Yet White Drugs' oeuvre is no senseless racket; beneath the fuzz there are well-considered riffs, dangerously addictive hooks and the most inexplicably appealing punk vocals to be put on proverbial wax. Take "Kleaning Kru" which trades a couple zingy guitar licks with muddy, bass-heavy interludes before hitting a garage punk chorus. The fucker will get your toe tapping as easily as any pop song. Or "Poach Me Again," which sounds like the theme music for some sort of rock 'n' roll wizard (maybe the one illustrated on the disc cover), with its bombastic guitar intro followed by a loose collection of power chords and barely enunciated lyrics.
Listening to Harlem, it's easy to envision an intense live show, the stage covered in beer and saliva and maybe blood. Who knows, the fellas who make up White Drugs might very well be nice boys, but they play upon the traditions of some of the scariest—and best—of rock/punk's past. In doing so, they've created the best local album of the year so far.