Imagine, if you will, a psych rock band who also enjoy the two greatest genres to grace our green planet: jazz and prog rock. Intending absolutely zero sarcasm with my last remark, I can now inform you that you need not imagine, as White Denim exist, ready-made, for your pleasure. They're back after a small time away with Performance, a hyper, rapidfire collection that best shows off their jam potential.
Vinyl LP £21.49 SLANG50154LP
Black vinyl LP on City Slang.
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Limited Vinyl LP £21.49 SLANG50154LT
Limited edition, indies only clear vinyl LP on City Slang.
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CD £9.99 SLANG50154
CD on City Slang.
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Tape £6.99 SLANG50154T
Cassette tape on City Slang.
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White Denim are sort of the psychedelic symbiosis of Beck and Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Don’t @ me. A band who make giddy, obnoxious hooks sound clear as day, the Austinites seem capable of applying their genre jam in just the right way, creating breezy, simple songs out of what could be an exercise in overdoing it. Their new record, ‘Performance’, takes deep influence from jazz and prog, utilising the instrumentation and structures, but it always ultimately feels like a very White Denim thing: the hooks, the harmonies, the hope and the happiness, all abundant in one last kiss blown to the summer.
It might not sound anything like it, but ‘Performance’ reminds me of Woods’ attempts to create a singular, aesthetic sound on ‘City Sun Eater’, never sacrificing their sound for it. Despite the horns blowing through “Magazin” White Denim encourage snappy melody; on the squelching, nearly annoying title track, they double down on their garage rock schematic, their brazen guitar screeching through proceedings. “Moves On” is rough with riffs, allowing the odd synth oscillation to mess things up while offering the usual mix of bluster and bravado.
And really, it just comes down to whether the hooks hit this time. They might hit better than any of the White Denim records now receding into the eye of time: I’ll just shout-out “Moves On” again for mixing a low-key vibe (in part thanks to the wonderful, flat-packed production the band employ) with whacky solos and super-catchy antics. The guitars of “Sky Beaming” are endlessly listenable, rollicking around a central idea with a rhythm that makes Radiohead’s “15 Step” sound that little bit closer to an early Genesis record. Suddenly the space clears out, the guitars start twiddling out another melody, the band start singing back and forth to one another... isn't it just fine? Things start to twang, all content, all wrapped up, as if to say "It’s White Denim" and nothing more. They're complicated, but only so you don’t have to be, and just lovely, when it comes down to it.
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