Sunday, February 9, 2014
White Flight S/T Range Life/Black And Green Records 2006
This has easily become one of my favorite local releases over the past few years. It's Justin Roelofs, post-Anniversary, just putting his ideas out there and creating somewhat of a spectacle of himself. For this LP and project, he's no longer Justin Roelofs, he is White Flight or the White Wizard. He also reportedly found all his inspiration on a visit to South America, never doing drugs, but soaking in some serious spirituality.
He's a smart dude and has always been off center (or at least he wants you to think he is). I remember when he was in the Anniversary hanging around Lawrence. They were a tight-knit band and were always seen together. Once they headlined KU's Day on the Hill, which is a outdoor, parking lot concert. I was in attendance with my sister and the Anniversary was hanging out in front of us pre-show. Somehow, they got on the topic of Neutral Milk Hotel's In An Aeroplane Over the Sea album. One of the Anniversary guys, I want to say the drummer stated something to the effect of he never understood the album or didn't really like it. Roelofs blew up. He started asking, "Do you know what it's about?" And before anyone could answer he started telling them it was based on the Diary of Anne Frank (it isn't, but it's a rumor). He continued though, for like 10 minutes, red in the face that his band mate didn't agree that the album is genius. So, despite that some of the White Flight thing seems theatrical, there is plenty of evidence that points to Roelofs' eccentricity.
Another thing about Roelofs, up until this album, he has always seemed somewhat disingenuous. He's very adept at writing in a current scene's sound. His early high school career was based around a pop-punk sound. As discussed previously, he had success writing in that genre. Then, he formed the Anniversary and was drawn into the sound of Weezer and the Rentals. When, stoner rock became a thing, he and the Anniversary changed tune again. All good tunes and worth listening to, but not really his own thing.
That changes White Flight album, at least to a certain extent. This is a mash-up of everything he's heard, everything he could want to copy, everything he could think of. He just throws it all out there. Had this come out pre-Animal Collective, people would call it genius. Instead, it gets lumped in as more post-modern indie-rock. And, truth be told, I'm fairly certain some Animal Collective did come across Roelofs' lap prior to putting this together. But, fuck, it's a great album.
Upon first listen, it is a bit much to take in and can sound sloppy and unfocused. After a few times though, the hip hop influences just start to blend with all the chopped up electronics, samples, and guitars. Lyrically, he's a kid from Overland Park, KS, and doesn't have much to say, he talks about cats, spirits and there's a lot of scratch vocal "la, la, la, la-ing" going on. It's okay though, because the groove is there.
The amount of visuals out there for the album is pretty incredible. He's got YouTube of himself dispelling drug rumors to his mom (is that needed?) and he gave himself a Jesus makeover in all his glossy videos. Again, he's an eccentric dude, but after several videos, it all seems a bit over the top and concocted. I'll take it though, the album is brilliant.
Apparently, White Flight is now done. The White Wizard (again, that Roelofs) is working with Evan 'E. Vax' Mast of Ratatat (also worked with Jay Z) and they are dubbing themselves Abuela. Both E. Vax and White Wizard went to South America to shoot video for all the visuals that are going to go along with the music. The song, "Sapa," has already been featured in a Lexus commercial and there is a video up for it. The first 7" featuring the song is apparently available currently.