White Denim have become this twister of sound from the Lone Star state. They break bread with blues, rock, soul, funk, and madness. From album one back in 2009 to now their sound has morphed and evolved, much like the creature in The Thing. You remember, it could take the shape of whomever it came into contact with? White Denim emulate all their influences and inspirations, but in their own unique otherworldly way.
Ever since 2013s Corsicana Lemonade the band, which consists of James Petralli(vocals, guitar), Greg Clifford(drums), Steven Terebecki(vocals, bass), and Michael Hunter(keyboards) toned down their musical bipolar tendencies and honed in on the rock, funk, and soul aspects of their sound. Singer Petralli has a sweet soul croon and his guitar playing can be as tasteful as his knack for rock shredding.
Only a little over a year since their last full-length titled Performance, White Denim are back with the short-but-sweet Side Effects. These are tracks left over from the Performance sessions. Songs the band felt didn’t fit the vibe of that record but still warranted release. The results are a fun, swift kick in the pants of a listen. It’s 29 minutes of manic perfection and funky madness with a freeing sort of swagger not heard from these guys for a while.
“Small Talk(Feeling Control)” is a psychedelic swirl of bullet train speed, wonky guitar, and Petralli delivering a killer falsetto that works into a riff-heavy chorus. There’s a musty, 70s vibe here. It’s a weird and fun track. “Hallelujah Strike Gold” sounds like Blow By Blow-era Jeff Beck, with a touch of Frank Zappa for good measure. The production is dizzying here. Like a double dose of Robitussin on your fifth shot of espresso. This is what flipping the light fantastic truly sounds like. “Shanalala” is just a killer groove fest. I could hear ZZ Top playing this back in 1975, maybe with Sly and the Family Stone stopping by for good measure.
This is the vibe pretty much throughout. You can hear why these songs may not have been a good with the more radio-friendly tunes. These are better left to twist and toil with others like them. Something like “Reversed Mirror” definitely brings the Zappa vibes. Or Dixie Dregs jamming in the desert. This is the kind of track that proves the brilliant musicianship that’s going on in White Denim. “So Emotional” brings those perfect syncopations back in Dixie Dregs form. Could be the most straight forward track here.
At this point, I think White Denim have gotten to where they’re gonna do what they wanna do. And what they wanna do is White Denim. I’m pretty happy with that. Side Effects is an album having fun for the sake of having fun. It’s sort of off the rails, but in the best way possible.
7.9 out of 10