White Denim

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
Workout Holiday (Full Time Hobby, 2008), 7/10
Fits (Downtown, 2009), 6/10
Last Day of Summer (2010), 5/10
D (2011) , 6/10

Texas' trio White Denim (vocalist-guitarist James Petralli, bassist Steve Terebecki and drummer Josh Block) favored the jerky, sloppy and punkish garage-rock pioneered by Jon Spencer but augmented it with artful moves worthy of the new wave on Workout Holiday (2008), also known as Explosion (2008). Let's Talk About It has the killer guitar riff and the underlying killer distorted noise and the killer tom-tom beat, and a killer Police-style bridge, but what is unique is the way the riff is repeated almost like an instrumental mantra over increasingly syncopated drumming. The instrumental Shake Shake Shake burst at the seams with the verve of the Fleshtones but the drums are again protagonist of a breathtaking metamorphosis, peaking with a galloping finale. IEIEI displays the fire and the pathos of the Who. I Can Tell resurrected the angular, lascivious soul-rock of the Rolling Stones, Free and Grand Funk Railroad. There was certainly more than simple retro nostalgia at stake in hybrid reconstructions such as Sitting, that indulges in Queen-style glam-cabaret and silly Beatles-ian harmonies, not to mention the wild imitation of rhythm'n'blues shouters of the 1950s in the torrid All You Really Have to Do. The neurotic element that is overshadowed in those relatively straightforward pieces comes to the foreground with the instrumental Look That Way at It, the grotesque blues-rock shuffle of Darksided Computer Mouth and the even more convoluted instrumental Wda, that begins like a Grateful Dead country-rock jam but with little of their melodic subtlety. The drummer frequently steals the show, notably with the locomotive rhythm of the restive Mess Your Hair Up.

Fits (Downtown, 2009) confirmed the good qualities of the band, but ultimately sounded like leftovers from the first album. Radio Milk How Can You Stand It blends convoluted hysterical jamming, silly singalong, and spastic tempo shifts. All Consolation is a rave-up for distorted piercing guitar and wildly pounding drums. Say What You Want to shape a hard-rock tune but ends up in a shapeless bacchanal. Less chaotic, I Start To Run is a shouted rhythm'n'blues that caters to the broader audience. Even more melodic is Paint Yourself, although derailed by a dense rhythmic tapestry. References to the past abound, from the rapid-fire atmospheric instrumental Sex Prayer to the spacey Mirrored And Reversed with its multi-tiered rhythm. Add plenty of tributes to Sixties vocals (I'd Have It Just The Way We Were) and Sixties instrumentals (Everybody Somebody).

Adding second guitarist Austin Jenkins, the free digital download Last Day of Summer (2010) sounded like a tribute to their roots and inspiration, spanning a broad spectrum of styles without really trying to secret hybrids. The songs, however, don't quite stand on their own merits. The album as a whole constitutes pleasant muzak not to listen to.

White Denim removed the last remaining intellectual detritus from D (2011) and settled for laid-back back-porch roots-rock highlighted by the psychedelic jam It's Him, the country-pop elegy Keys, the instrumental guitar workout of At the Farm, and the winning combination of pastoral hippie flute and Caribbean rhythm in River to Consider.

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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