Upon first hearing White Denim, your immediate assumption is that they’re another soul-powered garage/psych rock band from Texas, which, to be fair, they are: a trio from Austin who mine hefty chunks from Lenny Kaye’s Nuggets compilation and ‘60s freakbeat, with a gnarly panache that Lester Bangs would be proud to sup cough medicine to.
However, a closer listen to ‘Lets Talk About It’, the lead track from their forthcoming debut EP, reveals deeper layers nestling underneath these immediate reference-points, with an urgent, Devo-esque barrage of jerk-pop riffola leading into an extended instrumental prog-jam that sounds like Can, King Crimson and the Sea and Cake playing ‘Tequila’ through a busted speaker.
White Denim clearly relish the creation of unexpected twists and turns for the listener, a distinct thread that runs throughout their music. Perhaps their music is just a little schizophrenic?
“That sounds kind of exactly right!” So is that a conscious decision or just something that tends to come naturally to the three of you?
“We just set out to make songs that challenge us as musicians/writers,” says singer James. “And that we feel people can still connect with on a really simple level. This group is the first context that I have ever attempted to conceive ideas with listeners in mind.”
White Denim’s convulsive, confounding music affiliates them with the new eclectic rock milieu (see: Vampire Weekend, MGMT, Foals, etc.), bands that refuse to allow their music to sit still and wilfully display influences and sounds from a broad palette. What singles out White Denim from the pack is a powerful sense of unforced spontaneity that comes from their arty, amped-up rock, an attitude and approach that feels refreshing in these slightly-too-knowing times.
So, who would play at White Denim’s dream festival? “XTC, Tuxedomoon, Captain Beefheart, ZZ Top, Stevie Wonder, Charles Mingus, The Band, Dirty Projectors, Cream, Band of Gypsies and Daft Punk.”