It's official. Behind the Hype has moved its roots and stuck them in the wonderfully weirdest place possible for live music lovers: Austin, Texas. I've heard Austin is the herald of all things live, pro, and strange.
Fitting smoothly and snugly into that category are Austin natives, White Denim. A favorite band of mine since I heard I Start to Run from their 2009 album Fits for the first time. Drummer Josh Block and guitarist Austin Jenkins recently departed WD to join up with Leon Bridges on his debut album, but with Jeff Olson and Jonathon Horne taking new guard, the band has remained true to its funky psychedelic southern rock roots...with music videos to match:
2016 brings the release of their latest album; Stiff, which stays true to all the best parts of the genres they dominate. The guitars by Jonathon Horne and James Petralli always come back to a Southern sound; a mix of American Heartland bolstering, James Brown dancing, summer night love makin', Indy car driving, groove of love gospel's best shredding skill that helps define the White Denim sound.
Steve Terebecki has always brought an interesting sound and style to the bass that can move along any time period's style in the last 60 years. The muddy treble slathered on top keeps it slick regardless of the track. Couple that with the Drummer Surpeme Jeff Olson's musical prowess keeps White Denim in the pocket like JNCO jeans.
Stiff opens with the fast driving single Had 2 Know (Personal); a song that air musicians of every instrument can enjoy while driving into the heart of Texas as I did some weeks ago. Singer and guitarist James Petralli has one of those instrumental voices that counts as extra credit a-la Cedric Bixler-Zavala of At the Drive-In/Mars Volta fame. The voice this time, and throughout the album speaking on the theme of love, or at the very least the adrenaline high of it from the musical mastery of the band at full fleetness.
One of my favored tracks is Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah); the second on the album. A delectably smooth Curtis Mayfield-inspired composition with plenty of room for honky tonk love. The video takes us on a night a true nighttime cowboy; a piece apparently based on a deleted scene from Urban Cowboy... Whether that's true or not, it does ring true to several elements of the film.
The track Thank You is what a country big band sequence with praises of a lover's admiration cherry on top. The first time I heard it I ran it back a few times to hear the vicious drum funk intro plated there for me. It gently mixes a rock and roll gallop coupled with a soulful rider, complete with a well crafted guitar solo and xylophone sendoff combo that closes Stiff on a lofty note.
The entire album is fairly chock full of smooth moving, full funkified rock and roll. With strong entries of the flirty-eyes-at-the-social soul jam (I'm the One) Big Big Fun on a Saturday night or the swing-speed-friendly Real Deal Momma that spouts lyrics that feel down right spot on for the man on the rise in a new town (like moi). Stiff is a short and sweet 35 minute adventure that can easily help carry you through summer with hot effect.
As a new resident of Austin, maybe I can find out a little more about their river side studio, and just how weird this city on the Colorado is. The band is on a North American and European tour until October, so White Denim live treatment may be a bit of time away. I'll keep this album on summer rotation until then.
Until next time my friends,