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White Rabbits Dig Up Burundi Beats With Spoon

The New Now

Long ago, back in the early '80s, before many of you reading this were born, a fellow named Malcolm McLaren decided to bring a style of tribal drumming from the Eastern African country of Burundi to pop music via Adam & the Ants. Yet before the Ants could fully embrace the sound, the first version of the Ants split from Adam and went with McLaren to form Bow Wow Wow with then-teenaged singer Anabella Lwin. Adam went on and found some new Ants and both that act and Bow Wow Wow rode the Burundi beat to the top of the pops in the U.K. Around the same time, Echo & the Bunnymen performed its song "Zimbo" with the actual Royal Burundi Drummers. Nearly 30 years later, White Rabbits are bringing back the Burundi beat in a big way with the killer track "Percussion Gun" from their recently release sophomore set It's Frightening. Check out the stunning video, directed by Andrew Droz Palermo, below.

You might have heard a bit of a Radiohead influence in that song as well. Thom Yorke and company did go a bit Burundi in its performance of "15 Step" with the USC Marching Band at the Grammy Awards earlier this year. Aside from the vocal and percussion similarities, White Rabbit does have something else in common with Radiohead. Both acts released their latest efforts through TBD Records. But unlike Radiohead, White Rabbits aren't British. Rather, they're yet another great new act that's emerged from the fertile Brooklyn, New York scene, although the sextet originally hails from Columbia, Missouri. In fact, the band actually formed while members of the band were studying at the University of Missouri and singer/pianist Stephen Patterson and singer/guitarist Greg Roberts worked together at a local record store. Here's a look back at the video clip for "The Plot" from Fort Nightly, the band's 2007 debut.

Like the '80s lineup of Adam & the Ants, White Rabbits includes two drummers in Matthew Clark and Jamie Levinson. The '80s Burundi drum style isn't the only influence from the past. White Rabbits are also big fans of the recently reunited Specials and Squeeze and appear to have come up with an answer song to the Clash's "Rudie Can't Fail" with their own "Rudie Fails." Check it out below.

Rudie Fails

Aside from drawing inspiration from the '80s, White Rabbits turned to one of its peers--albeit one with a bit more experience--for guidance during the making of It's Frightening. The set is produced by Spoon frontman Britt Daniels. "[His] biggest contribution, for me, was just giving us confidence in the material," Patterson told the Illinois Entertainer. "Early on, when we were writing, it means a lot getting a stamp of approval from that guy. We've all been fans of his music for a while. We wrote faster, we wrote better songs because of it." With Its Frightening, Patterson and the rest of the White Rabbits have proved that statement in the grooves.

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