The bass starts as a drone, then adds a slow, picked riff, which accelerates and builds. The drums and bass kick in, pushing it up higher. The two women vocalists, who have been prowling around, feeling out the periphery of the stage, suddenly explode, singing, almost shouting, in rapid-fire unison. The syllables spin past you, until you clearly hear, “Another twisting of the knife/ Another twisting of the knife. … What everybody says is always right!”
And so begins another White Murder show–and it only builds in intensity from there.
The singers, Mary Animal and Hannah Blumenfeld, charge into the audience, or turn on each other, hugging and/or wrestling, all the time singing every line in perfect lockstep. The band–Reuben Kaiban on guitar, Mike D’Amico on bass, and Paul Gonzalez on drums–play hard and tight, and push them on relentlessly. It’s a short show, but with so much energy packed into it the audience is left sated.
This intensity comes naturally to the partially Long Beach-based band. “The stage show is just what we want to do,” says Blumenfeld. “We really mean what we’re singing, so there’s an intensity that comes along with that.” Gonzalez adds, “I like it that Mary and Hannah get into people’s faces. They get in the moment of what’s going on, and that’s just what comes out.”
Now White Murder have condensed that intensity into an album, ten bursts of power in 25 minutes. While the sound is, not surprisingly, much cleaner than a live show, none of the impact is lost; it is, instead, polished and focused. The songs tackle such topics as lust, violence and self-image (separately and together) in a blunt but still poetic manner. According to Blumenfeld, “This is a very thought out collection of songs. Reuben put a lot of thought into the track sequencing, and I think it’s brilliant.”
The album was recorded in two days, by Mark Rains at Station House Studio in L.A. The band was recorded live in the studio, then the women added their vocals together. It is a joint release between Razorcake and Recess Records. They especially want to thank Todd Taylor of Razorcake and Todd Congelierre of Recess Records.
Blumenfeld points out, “We’re really stoked that the vinyl is being put out by a group of people who really get what we’re doing.” Animal agrees, “This is really important to us, and it needs to be that important to the people putting it out.”
Gonzalez’s instigation brought White Murder together in March 2011. “Everyone was going through this whirlwind of life stuff happening,” he explains. “Hannah played me a CD of her old band, and I told her, ‘You should sing in a band again.’” He already knew Kaiban and D’Amico, and invited them to join.
“I was in [Reuben’s] bed, and I told him, ‘You’re not available unless you bring me with you,’” Animal said. She later amends this to, ”I did say that, if Paul was inviting him to be in a band, he should join. And I did hope to weasel my way in, even if it meant standing in the back doing shadow puppetry.” They all met at the Pike, and by the end of the afternoon they were a band.
In the end, no shadow puppets were necessary; they decided to on the dual vocals approach. “We were just really drunk [when we decided to do that],” Animal says. But Blumenfeld adds, “I had a band in Cleveland with two female singers, and I really liked it.”
“There was this consensus that it just sounded way more tough,” Kaiban adds.
The name “White Murder” came out of a later brainstorming session. It was originally Muerta Blanca, but they were advised to use English. Although the name has apparently bothers some people, Hannah says, “I never meant the name to be incendiary.”
They played their first show, as Muerta Blanca, at Harold’s in San Pedro, although their first official show as White Murder was opening for Dante vs. Zombies at the Echo in L.A.
The album will be available as a vinyl LP and digital download. The LP can be purchased at Fingerprints Records and Third Eye Records in Long Beach. White Murder will have copies at their show on Sunday, January 26, at the Continental Room (115 W. Santa Fe Ave.) in Fullerton, the final night of their Sunday residency there. They will then embark on a West Coast tour in February.
The new album and all of White Murder’s recordings are available at http://whitemurder.com
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