White Wives is a bit of a rarity: a punk rock side-project that seems as fully realized as a full-on regularly paying gig. Comprised of members from Anti-Flag, along with punk rockers from the lesser-known American Armada and Dandelion Snow, White Wives take their name from the White Wives Plan of the Dutch Provo counterculture movement of the mid-‘60s, and take the album name, Happeners, from those who formed “happenings” in Amsterdam and Antwerp to provoke the police by means of non-violence. However, musically, the band is a little less political and more towards the pop punk end of the spectrum: think of the Clash if someone had taken a sandblaster to their music and blown away all of the already polished, sanded down edges of London Calling. The 11 songs to be found on Happeners happen to even be reminiscent of the triumphant, loud anthemic indie punk of Titus Andronicus. In fact, Happeners is kind of like The Monitor just without the U.S. Civil War conceit that worms its way through that album, and replaces it with the Atomic Age concerns born of the ‘50s nuclear family. While Happeners is overall quite the rousing album as a whole, there are signifiers that the band is exploring beyond punk’s roots. “Sky Starting Crying” is a piano-led number that sounds a little like the sort of thing Bruce Springsteen would write, with some roots in baroque ‘60s pop. “Hungry Ghosts” has the tiny hint of a pedal steel guitar in it, giving it a slight country flavour. “Paper Chaser” is an attempt to build a propulsive rhythm out of sheets of white noise. Overall, Happeners is a strong, assured collection of songs, although it might have gone done a bit better had The Monitor not beaten it to the punch. Still, this is worth checking out.
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