[6 November 2008]
Low bowed bass begins Old Theatrics, the first full-length album from Scranton folk rockers The Minor White. The classical instrumentation of “Old Fashioned Drinker (In a River of Glue)” continues into soft strings and Roy Williams’ potent baritone. While some members are also in another Scranton band And the Moneynotes, The Minor White have their own sound going. Ranging from sunny 1960s harmonies and psychedelic prog rock to jazz, Vaudevillian jaunts and banjo-led murder ballads, Old Theatrics presents a variety of moods and sounds.
The Minor White’s two sets of brothers probably help achieve such a relaxed and natural rapport. The O’Hara Brothers cover the rhythm section (Ian on bass, Shane on drums) while the brothers Williams fill out much of the rest of instrumentation (Roy on lead vocals, piano and organ, and Kevin with background vocals, keyboards, and whistling). Kyle Wall serves as one-half of the lyrical duo (with Roy) and plays guitar, glockenspiel, etc.
Overall a Beatles undertone fills much of their sound, recalling everything from hushed ballad moments to hazy psychedelic soundscapes. “Go to Hell” mixes all of these things with a spooky shadow of strings, elongated organ and mysterioso backing croons. A choir of the undead bridges chorus to verse until the arrangement becomes a scary psychedelic mass waiting to be lassoed. Ultimately, the feedback-heavy guitar shredding becomes a collage reminiscent of Phish’s scarier jam moments.