RECORD REVIEW: * * * * (4 out of 5)
A slice of powerful punk -- and hidden hip-hop, too
By Jim Abbott
Orlando Sentinel Pop Music Critic
January 14, 2005
**** Whole Wheat Bread, Minority Rules (Fighting Records): Jacksonville punk-pop trio Whole Wheat Bread is a formidable presence on stage, but that doesn't always guarantee a new band an impressive debut album.
Fortunately, the 11 songs on Minority Rules (in stores Jan. 25) explode with almost the same force as the band's live show. There's nothing particularly ambitious about the approach to these hard-hitting sonic bursts, which detonate in intervals of roughly two minutes each.
Yet singer-guitarist Nicholas Largen, drummer Joseph Largen (Nick's brother) and singer-bassist Aaron Abraham deliver the goods so solidly that innovation isn't required. Producer Darian Rundall, whose credits include work for Yellowcard, merely gets out of the way to provide an uncluttered landscape on tracks recorded at Redondo Beach and Cell Studios in Orlando.
Without needless studio distractions, the emphasis is wisely on the driving beat and exuberant vocals. "Old Man Samson," which the band will be promoting with a music video produced this week at Bar-BQ-Bar, illustrates the calling card: a raucous sing-along chorus and churning guitars that blaze along with relentless speed.
All the sheer double-time muscle of songs such as "Scar Your Lungs" is accented by occasional surprises: the twangy, almost country feel to the opening guitar in "Samson," the crisp guitar solo that introduces the call-and-response vocals in "Loud & Clear." Such touches -- more of them wouldn't hurt -- start to elevate the band from its obvious influences (Green Day comes immediately to mind).
But, wait a minute, what's this?
On three hidden tracks that close the album, WWB abruptly turns into a hip-hop group. The results are an interesting mixture of moody melodies, crackling live percussion and cocksure attitude that still sounds more like a band than a DJ.
Whether the band rocks or raps, Minority Rules shows that Whole Wheat Bread does it with considerable promise.