Lo-fi is alive and well on the debut by Portland’s White Fang. Positive Feedback captures those glorious moments of youth when we watched our friends’ bands struggle their way through Weezer covers in their parents’ half-furnished basements (I’m looking at you, Stin), stoned while lovingly ruining your favorite songs. While Positive Feedback is a much more accomplished affair with wide-ranging original songs, the quartet manages to evoke the same innocent joy of playing pure rock and roll.
Positive Feedback resonates like that mix tape from your older friend or sibling — the one that opened your ears to the world of underground rock — and features the same offbeat mix of styles and sounds. “If I Had a Van” finds White Fang channeling their inner corn dogs on the Minutemen-esque speak/sing ode, discussing landing a beaten-up transport in which to “hot-box and get so high” and, of course, to “play your town,” where “everyone would come down.” They puff out their chests in the sludgy “I Can’t Skate”, a track that’s fueled with the angst of Deluxx Folk Implosion’s “Daddy Never Understood”.
The mix continues on “Unchain Your Brain”, a cowbell-heavy ’60s British rocker, which provides surprisingly mature advice on aging with the lyrics, “Finding out what it takes to be a man/ It never goes exactly how you planned/ Finding out what it means to love a girl/ It only happens every once in a world.” There is even a doo-wop track in the pot ode “Spaced Out”, and bringing the randomness to critical mass is “Band from Macy”, a song that includes a partial Pink Floyd cover. Finally, closing out this hodgepodge of a record is “Drugs on the Moon”‘s jangly slice of psych-folk.
There’s a lot going on here, but that lack of coherence works for this young band. White Fang’s youthful energy permeates the record, more than making up for its shortcomings. The ultimate triumph of Positive Feedback, however, is the band’s ability to channel their source material while remaining uniquely themselves, and for a creative launch point, that’s strong, positive feedback.
Essential Tracks: If I Had a Van, Unchain Your Brain, and Spaced Out