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Fort Nightly (Bonus Tracks Version)

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Album Review

Vague recollections of a surreal 1940s movie scene eddy up. Six musicians enter a room, take their seats, and begin to play...six different pieces of music. They stop, look at each other, nod, and begin playing again...all different songs. They exchange sheet music, but cacophony still ensues. The memory is dim, but the White Rabbits bring it vividly to life with their strange but brilliant Fort Nightly album. The sextet sashay in with the Latin-flavored "Kid on My Shoulders," a track infused with a '50s feel, yet with a dark and dangerous atmosphere that evokes the Specials, and lyrics that put even Terry Hall's most obscure ones to shame. "March of the Camels" conjures that band's specter even more strongly with its oppressive atmosphere, solid reggae bassline, and eerie cries which echo of "Ghost Town." In contrast, "Dinner Party" sets a table for the Fun Boy 3 with its rhythm-heavy arrangement. And like the Fun Boy 3, it's the Rabbits' rhythms that are the driving force of the band's sound. Many of them are jazz or big-band inspired, but not exclusively, as the martial drums that power "Take a Walk Around the Table" or the Afro-beats that patter across "I Used to Complain Now I Don't" illustrate. But the big, bold beats are often juxtaposed against champagne-styled piano, which in "Complain"'s case slides slyly into ragtime. If Liberace joined a swing band, and enlisted a guitarist addicted to eclecticism (Western, surf-flecked, and C&W included), it might sound a bit like this. Yet somehow, the White Rabbits pull this surreal set straight out of the hat, because for all its fractured elements, the group still magically conjure up coherent, complete songs. As lyrically eclectic and clever as it is musically, this is one fascinating album. As unique an experience as the Fun Boy 3's eponymous debut was in its day, and just as mesmerizing.


Formed: 2004 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

At first, it's easy to mistake the White Rabbits for just another set of New York City dance-rock hipsters in the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah tradition, but a second look reveals a quirkier and more rewarding aesthetic. A sextet featuring two drummers and a piano player, the White Rabbits refer to their music as "honky tonk calypso," and their cheerful blend of calypso, reggae and ska rhythms, plus secondhand music hall influences and big pop hooks, strongly recalls vintage Madness circa "Our House"...
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Top Albums and Songs by White Rabbits

Fort Nightly (Bonus Tracks Version), White Rabbits
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