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Scranton, Pennsylvania’s The Minor White create a colorful montage of chamber pop and rock elements with plush theatrical frills, refined acoustic sensibilities, and charming carnival-clad tones on their latest release Daily Vacation. The six track album produced by Nick Krill (Spinto Band) and recorded and mixed by The Minor White, delivers a melodic combination of rock guitars and rhythms with arias of mandolin, accordion, whistles, piano, violin, saxophone, and trumpet. The music is intricately raveled similarly to Nurses and fashioned from melodic hoops sustaining a soft-pop modulation relatable to The New Amsterdams.

The Minor White’s music jumps over fences erected by impressions of what pop/rock music should sound like, while producing music that is undeniably modern. They push pop/rock’s barriers to include melodic mixtures that haul in chamber music instrumentation without ever sounding like a high school marching band. Rather, the songs from Daily Vacation have a resemblance to carnival minstrels and music played for stage performances like the Cirque du Soleil productions with reflections of The Beatles imaginary world of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Daily Vacation is very much for anyone with an open imagination.

The album starts off with a saloon style piano melody for “A Change in Season” with percussive shakers and little intricacies that make the tune vibrant and colorful. The carousel ride drumming and carnival like keyboards and guitars of “The Ditty” have a jolly gait with vocal harmonies that enhance the feel good vibes. The airy vocal register and folk-pop hues of "Static Redbeard" are coated in soft violin silhouettes and gentle guitar textures with a relaxing momentum. The tempo shifts of “Moonrag” slow down and build up periodically. The instruments are tenderly poised as the vocals levitate above the melodic swathe of low-registered horns and accordion keys at the bottom. The title track has chorus line drum kicks and bright billowing horns and keyboards intercepted by waves of wild guitar distortions, which have a theatrical quality like music for stage shows. The soft melodic pop melody of “So, Oklahoma” has languid acoustics and a light vocal pitch that snuggles with the flowering string arrangements. The song fades into delicate pearls of lacing whistles played by lead vocalist Roy Williams.

The members of The Minor White are quite an assortment of musicians with frontman Roy Williams additionally playing piano, guitar, mandolin, and bass, Kyle Wall on guitar and keyboards, Shane O’Hara on drums, and Kevin Williams on keyboards, accordion, and backup vocals. Their music is modern sounding using classical and contemporary instruments and an imagination that knows no boundaries. They bust open the doors for pop/rock musicians to aim for something more, and they truly deliver it on Daily Vacation.

Posted on 02/13/08 by Susan Frances


There’s much more of interest here than implied by the drab sepia of the cover to this debut 6 track EP from this college band from Scranton Pennsylvania. It’s the kind of mundane study in which American photographer Minor Martin White, from whom the band took their name, specialised. The Minor White sound is anything but mundane. The two pairs of brothers, plus one, have been together in various forms since high school up the road in their hometown of Clarks Summit. That’s the kind of rural community that, at least from this side of the Atlantic, summons up images of Americana: white picket fences, front porches, maybe a bit of backwoods strangeness lurking in the shadows. Who knows, but vocalist Roy Williams has been a member of a bluegrass band, and there’s a dash of alt-country in the rich mix of styles, skills and influences this group of multi-instrumentalists have going on in their own creative melting pot. The Beatles, Elliot Smith, Dylan, Radiohead, and Wilco are all acknowledged. As that list implies, and as it’s easy to hear, the song is the thing - structure, melody, harmony, variety. If you want a hazy visual - think Midlake fronted by Colin Meloy. Earlier efforts freely downloadable at see them developing their own character in songs that blend the soft rock of Midlake, the guilty pleasures pop of The Feeling, and the sonic exploration of Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. They sound like a work in progress - a close knit group of friends with grand ideas finding their feet and developing their song craft. This EP sees that effort starting to bear fruit with a distinct energy and flowing complexity of their own.
A Change In Season is driven by a jarring piano deliberately slightly off key, with harmonising vocals to match. At first listen it’s a bit off putting, but it grows on you. Beatlesesque piano (and indeed Strawberry fields mellotron) is a repeated feature of their sound, as are understated brotherly vocal harmonies. Lead vocalist Roy Williams has said that he’s very self conscious about names, and The Ditty never got renamed from its working title. It’s all fuzzy guitar over a George Harrison out-take, drifting in and out of feedback and fairground waltz segments. Static Redbeard is straight ahead alt-country and the strongest stand alone track of the collection. A single violin picks out the lead and it features some Andrew Bird style whistling after a delightful piano twist in the melody, all the while underpinned by a subdued beat - it could be a smiling acoustic Arcade Fire being careful not to upset the next door neighbours at band practise. The tempo dips with the more desperate emotions of Moonrag before being stirred up again by the piano backbone of the title track, which branches into speakeasy jazz and sonic landscapes in what becomes a characteristically Minor White tour de force of a musical collage. The dreamy So Oklahoma (that mellotron sound again) brings the curtain down, though the reedy vocals fight against that mood in what is the weakest track.
There are only two things to criticise about this EP. First, it’s not an album - these atmospheric and beautifully composed songs would benefit from a home in an extended setting to allow the listener to stay in the zone and enjoy the mood for longer - assuming there were more tracks of the same quality. Second, on occasion Roy Williams’ vocals are stretched a bit thin - everything else sounds so polished and in the right place. But then that never stopped Thom Yorke or Ray Davies - maybe all that is required is a bit more confidence. This could be a definite ‘you heard of them here first’ moment. One to watch.

Posted on 24 July 2007 by Andrew Dowdall





The diverse yet instantly recognizable style of The Minor White would not be made possible without the prolific talent of the group's five multi-instrumentalists and co-contributors to the songwriting process. Roy Williams (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano, organ, etc.), also of fellow Scrantonites And the Moneynotes, serves as lead vocalist and as one half of a lyrical partnership with Kyle Wall (electric guitar, piano, organ, bells, etc.), whose frenetic lead guitar (sometimes randomly) emerges from the depths of the often folky and harmony-drenched songs. The soulful keyboards of Kevin Williams (piano, organ, synthesizer, accordion), whose counter-melodies rest on top of brother Roy's and bounce along with the skillfully adept rhythm section of fellow brothers Ian O'Hara (bass guitar, upright bass) and Shane O'Hara (drums, percussion).

The band's open-minded approach can be seen in some of the members' various side projects: mandolin player in a bluegrass collective, upright bassist for a 1940's-style swing group, pianist for an earthy blues band; the group as a whole has even worn the musical costume of acts such as The Kinks and Bruce Springsteen for select shows.

In a live setting, The Minor White's various attributes are magnified for the audience in the songs that the group collectively labors over for weeks while writing. Songs will flow into the next. Members will trade off instruments between songs, and members will play two instruments within one song. Bridges that are dream-like and mellow on “Old Theatrics” explode into rollicking breakdowns, and vice versa. The performance is intensely energetic while still being focused in minute details. Having solidified their sound since the the release of their 2007 debut "Daily Vacation" EP, The Minor White's non-imitable sense of style and collaboration continues to branch out in countless directions.