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White Light Riot: 'Charlatan'

White Light Riot's (from left) Dan Larsen, Mark Schwandt, Joe Christenson and Mike Schwandt.
White Light Riot's (from left) Dan Larsen, Mark Schwandt, Joe Christenson and Mike Schwandt.

Anyone who thought Britpop died ten years ago was sorely mistaken. It is alive and kicking in Minneapolis, Minn. Following in the footsteps of UK darlings Blur and others, the rock group White Light Riot has a vibrant, energetic sound that thrives on chainsaw guitars and larger-than-life melodies.

White Light Riot's briskly-paced debut LP, Atomism, mixes gritty rock textures with elements of bright, sunshine pop. It's a sometimes huge sound when it needs to be, but dynamic throughout.

"Charlatan," the record's high-energy opening track, features punchy guitars and nervy drums backing lead singer Mike Schwandt's smooth, soaring pop vocals. With hooks galore and a post-punk edginess, the band's aggressive sound proves uber-catchy.

Schwandt returned from studying in the UK in 2005 with an unabashed Britpop fetish. Despite his own interests, he insists that the band's sound is very much a group effort. "None of the songs were written by just one person," Schwandt says. "Someone had lyrics, someone had a verse progression, someone had a chorus, etc. Together, as a group, was the only way to truly write our songs." So much so, Schwandt says, that that's how the record got its title. "Social atomism is the belief that society should be viewed in terms of the individual's importance, rather than group's and community's as a whole, because it is the unique qualities of the individuals in a group that ultimately define it. We thought that this fit so perfectly for how we write, play and record that it became the title of the album."

The band has already written 12 songs for what will be its sophomore album. They plan to tour later this summer and fall, but no dates have been scheduled.

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Conor McKay