Review : White Denim - D
PitchforkWhite Denim telegraphed their entire new album via "Regina Holding Hands", from 2009's Fits. "Regina" sounded nothing like the skronky, speed-addled garage that had earned the Austin band a deal with RCRD LBL, and a lot more like a leftfield take on airy jazz rock. "Breezy" was the last adjective anyone was expecting to use for this band at that point, and the prospect of an full album of such tentative sap would've been enough to trigger the release of the dreaded "cheese" descriptor. Yet with their third album, D, White Denim double down on this very approach, and manage to make a pretty good LP out of it. How'd they do it?
By expanding. First, they grew to a quartet, adding second guitarist Austin Jenkins to their lineup. Second, they dropped some coin on better recording equipment, moving from a trailer to an actual studio. And D is easily White Denim's best-sounding effort yet: The band's trademark shape-shifting compositions now feature clean, interlocking guitar lines, and singer James Petralli's voice has smoothed out into a raspy howl. It's also their most consistent album: Rollicking opener "It's Him!" sets the groovy Texas psych template to which the rest of the record hews closely. Along the way, White Denim are able to stir in a new set of psychedelic flourishes-- see the flutes and hippie lyrical mysticism of "River to Consider"-- with the verve of a Fillmore West opening band. Even the post-Maharishi Beatles vibe of closer "Keys"-- complete with strings!-- feels like a perfect extension of a confident band willing to stretch a bit. Who knows: Maybe it's a teaser for the next album?...full text
GuardianD is White Denim's fourth album in as many years, and as you might expect from such a statistic, it doesn't differ much from its predecessors. The band's sound hasn't changed radically; they've acquired a second guitarist, but otherwise don't seem to have progressed. Damning criticism? Not at all: White Denim are so fiercely experimental, playful and talented that they cram more radical change into single songs than many bands manage in entire lifespans. What makes D typical is the fluency with which it travels in umpteen musical directions simultaneously: River to Consider throws Latin-American carnival shapes, weaves in prog flute, breaks down into washes of psychedelia, and glues the lot together with luminous guitar riffs. It's Him! is a straightforward indie-rocker sent spinning by its elastic bassline and jazz-flecked drumming. More remarkable still is that it doesn't matter whether White Denim are playing glowing, Lee Hazlewood-style country or chugging, meaty metal: the sound is always unmistakably their own....full text
BbcIf someone was to undertake scientific analysis to compare the respective abilities of the average rock band in 2011 and those from, say, 1971, it’s likely that in terms of technical ability and sheer on-the-button tightness this year’s models would prevail. But just as contemporary footballers are undoubtedly fitter, faster and more efficient than their predecessors, maybe they lack something in style?
On D, Texan four-piece White Denim continue to beg that question. Their music is ostensibly melodic, psychedelic rock with sweet and sunny vocal lines that would sound at home against a strummed acoustic guitar. But their musical structure of choice involves restless, super-tight patterns, with time changes that remind of 70s progressive styles and 90s math-rockers. Drummer Joshua Block is technically impressive, but on a song like At the Farm he hyperactively fills up almost all of space in the music. Thankfully, it’s followed by the languid Street Joy, on which James Petralli sings with sweetness reminiscent of Jeff Buckley.
While White Denim have a tendency to enthusiastically overcook things, ultimately it’s their sheer audacity – allied to some strong tunes - that makes D hard to resist. They also appear to be quite unabashed at what they choose to emulate and come up with some strange combinations as a result. At times the twin guitars interlock and play off each other in a way that recalls the angularities of Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band; sometimes they seem to nod back – perhaps coincidentally – to the sort of twiddly twin lead breaks beloved of bands like Wishbone Ash. And just when you least expect it, Is and Is and Is suddenly bursts out in a ‘classic rock’ chorus that is positively Bon Jovian....full text
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