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Album Review

Joe Williams may be based in Cleveland and New York City, but Smoke shows that White Williams' heart resides in a fantasy version of '70s England, where glam rock, punk, electronics, and sleaze, detachment, and wit reign supreme. White Williams' music has drawn comparisons to contemporaries from Beck to Vampire Weekend, but the inclusive playfulness of Brian Eno's early solo albums feels like a more relevant touchstone for this album's friendly experimentalism — like Eno, Williams combines the really weird and the really poppy so that they complement each other instead of competing with each other. "In the Club" pairs gritty, glittery glam rock guitars and electro-pop irony so that they sound perfect, and perfectly natural together; "Danger" takes glam's infamous slow shuffle beat and surrounds it with short-circuiting synths. Smoke's palette of sounds is pretty remarkable, with guitars that shimmy, bounce, and buzz colliding with oddly childlike backing vocals and synths that sparkle and crackle. Everything sounds like it's been slicked in oil or wrapped in spandex, to the point where "Going Down"'s paranoid pop feels as though it could slip right off the album. It's Smoke's nonstop catchiness that makes it really special, however. Though "Lice in the Rainbow" closes the album with a burst of streaky and insectoid synths, even this tangent hovers around the length of a classic pop song. Meanwhile, "Route to Palm" and "Fleetwood Crack" have winsome melodies that feel strangely familiar, and make the sexily aloof cover of "I Want Candy" blend in even more seamlessly with the rest of Smoke. "Headlines" could be a long-lost single from the late '70s, while "New Violence"'s glistening new wave finds inspiration from just a few years later. Crucially, though, Smoke never sounds dated or rehashed — instead, it's a fresh, consistently creative, and consistently listenable debut.

Customer Reviews

unique and great!

this has to be one of the most original bands out there right now. they're a genre all their own and this really isnt a band to be missed. if you're looking for something different and fun this is definitely for you, and the cover of "i want candy" is actually surprisingly good. buy this! you won't regret it!

Pop album with electronic depth

This album presents a unique sound with familiar, if not diverse, influence. I hear Paul Simon, David Bowie, Parliament Funkadelic, New Order, and Radiohead. Even if someone disliked, or even lacked respect, for the aforementioned artists (although one would be hardpressed to do so), he/she can find something to appreciate on this album. "Route to Palm" is a standout track. "Going Down," "In the Club," and "Smoke" all deserve a second listen. We should eagerly anticipate future releases from this artist. I feel he is just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential.

Great Artist...perfect album

I accidently got to know White Williams on Pandora and since then I've been listing to his music very often and I just love it. ***** W.vieira 08/10 Brooklyn - Ny


Born: San Francisco, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Under the pseudonym White Williams, singer, multi-instrumentalist, and graphic designer Joe Williams makes playful, fractured art pop that borrows from glam rock's strutting cool and electronic mischief-making. In 1999, Williams was a drummer in a Cleveland, Ohio-based noise band who also played gigs with Black Dice and the Rapture; however, Williams eventually decided to take his music in a more electronic direction. In 2001, he formed So Red, a project that became part of a scene of artists that...
Full Bio
Smoke, White Williams
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Customer Ratings