When White Rabbits hit the scene in 2007 they were a burst of sonic energy, slightly disorganized but with enough collective animation to rival powerhouse acts like Arcade Fire. Fort Nightly sounded like the work of men on a Red Bull–and-vodka bender. The songs were essentially clouds of sounds that were indie rock in origin but otherwise impossible to fit into a specific category. They were one of the freshest of the emerging class of bands, and rock critics fawned over them. The year prior, in 2006, some members of the rock press called White Rabbits one of the heavy lifters at South by Southwest, the annual music-industry showcase in Austin, Texas. You’d think that all of that adulation would have gotten them a record deal on the spot. It didn’t.
That messy (if artsy) identity was more refined by the time White Rabbits released their second studio CD this year. It’s Frightening is a vessel for the six-piece’s untamed mix of upright piano, twin hollow-body guitars that fizz and hum, twin drummers (at times), and bass. It just sounds a bit leaner and a little more self-conscious and way more dialed-in after the band’s nearly two years of roadwork.
Influences are closer to the surface now: the lead single “Percussion Gun” has Adam Ant/slick ’80s British new wave written all over it. Unlike some indie rockers who seem to go out of their way to be intentionally boring, White Rabbits infuses a large dose of heart into the singing and does not write the same song over and call it different. And unlike Mr. Ant, White Rabbits is not likely to go down in history as a gifted one-hit wonder.
WHITE RABBITS: The Casbah, Wednesday, June 17, 8:30 p.m. 619-232-4355. $10 advance; $12 day of show.