Three years out from the Jeff Tweedy produced “Corsicana Lemonade,” Austin rock outfit White Denim reinvents itself once again. But this time, they kind of had to. Two founding members left to join Leon Bridges’s band full-time, leaving the remaining bandmates with a decision: to replace and move forward or disband and possibly continue writing another name.
They moved on. And they got funky.
“Stiff,” their latest release (and seventh overall), dropped March 25, and is soulfully frenzied from the start, wild at the mouth and hands of vocalist/guitarist James Petralli, bassist Steve Terebecki, guitarist Jonathan Horne and drummer Jeffrey Olson, with multi-instrumentalist Mike St. Clair joining on tour. “I wanted to treat this like a debut record,” Petralli told the “Austin Chronicle” in February.
It shouldn’t be problem, given the ears on these nine tracks. The underlying love of rock & roll basics is still there, but there are allusions to Curtis Mayfield, doo-wop and generally massive tones of R&B, while Petralli suggests that the Buzzcocks may have also playing in the background during the record’s incubation. Wild bits of "Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah)" and "Holda You (I'm Psycho)" slow into gooey, sweet steps midway through the record on back-to-back tracks “Take It Easy (Ever After Lasting Love)” and “(I’m the One) Big Big Fun” before kicking back up into “Real Deal Momma.” It’s White Denim like you’ve never heard them -- because it’s White Denim as they’ve never been before.
Hannah Lott-Schwartz, a San Diego native, moved back to the area after working the magazine-publishing scene in Boston. Now she’s straight trolling SD for all the music she missed while away. Want to help? Hit her up with just about anything at all over on Twitter, where -- though not always work-appropriate -- she means well.