White Denim sera en concert le 9 septembre à Paris.

“(their) gonzoid set is remarkable in terms of both performance and sheer energy to the point where it would be simple to describe them as possibly the most exciting live band in the world today” Mojo March 2009

After an incredible breakthrough year that was 2008, White Denim celebrate the first year anniversary of Workout Holiday (Albums of the Year from Observer Music Monthly, Uncut, The Sun and Clash) by releasing the eagerly anticipated follow up Fits. 2009 promises to be as incendiary. The band will return for live dates in May following classic UK shows that stopped at Bloomsbury Bowling, Borderline, Cargo and culminated in the you-really-should-have-been-there Dingwalls show in November 2008 which was one of The Independent’s Gigs of the Year (“the kind of group that becomes one’s favourite band. If they carry on at this rate, they should be one of next year’s big crossover successes”)

When a band’s first album is unpredictable enough to invoke comparisons with artists as wildly diverse as hardcore innovators the Minutemen and professorial idiosyncrasy of Randy Newman, probably a unique achievement, then you can reasonably assume it’s been made by people who care about music, lots of it. Jazz, punk, funk, country, acid rock, even piano ballads- all these labels have been used, accurately, to describe White Denim. Their second record is more problematic though. It has to sound like them.

Fits- the title is both a knowingly bad pun and a reference to the odd tantrum endured in its creation- manages just that. Anyone familiar with the ferocious drive of the Texan trio’s renowned live shows, where songs merge into each other and the playing guides the direction of the performance, will recognise their approach. Recorded and produced by the band in their own infamous studio/trailer, Fits is more coherent than debut Workout Holiday, yet sacrifices none of its imagination. Though there’s barely a pause between tracks the set ebbs and flows, ranging from the soft-hearted to the ferocious.

The band describe it, with only light sarcasm, as ‘The Friendship Record’ ‘We were congratulating each other for having good ideas,” says singer/guitarist James Petralli of the sessions, “We went through a lot of positive and negative things and came out of it a lot closer.”

Declared influences range from the obvious- the early works of Funkadelic- to the audible- drummer Josh Block has been listening to a lot of seventies Brazilian pop and it shows.

There are the curveballs you might expect from White Denim, but they are unifying and never forced. The mysteriously titled ‘Sex Prayer’ is an unexpected groove-led fusion riddim instrumental composed and largely performed by bassist Steve Terebecki. The frantic ‘Hard Attack’ is in garbled Spanish. More typical is the pummelling yet swirling upcoming single ‘I Start To Run’, as blunt as any sixties garage band that ever attempted rhythm and blues, yet dressed in a post-post punk arrangement that DFA would be proud of. Danceable rock music does not always have to fit the Brooklyn template. The playful touches act as a wonderful counterpoint to the soulful holler and keys/drums/harmonies second half of this killer tune. 

The woozy, fuzzed up ‘All Consolation’ extends the mind-expanding Texan tradition of Roky Erickson, Butthole Surfers and Secret Machines while ‘Everybody Somebody’ is their own take on classic rock, powered by nagging percussion and bubbling keys. Yet White Denim can never be merely nostalgic. ‘Radio Milk’ and ‘Say What You Want’ indubitably rock, yet the rhythms driving them are quietly unsettling and anything but predictable. According to Petralli the songs “deal directly with the sense of paranoia that came with the congratulations we got. Once it’s out there it’s no longer yours. We’re just addressing the fears that come with that.”

The fabulously driving ‘Mirrored And Reversed’ has a ‘Suspicious Minds’ false fade that confounds expectations. Lyrically it deals with the contradiction of their current situation. “Being in a rock band is absurd for an adult. Until last year we lived our lives growing up, worrying about insurance and starting families. Now we do this. So it’s about being afraid of preserving your dreams,” says Petralli. Or, as he sings, “Hoping the hopes of a child”. More prosaically, he describes the music as ‘a good steady shuffle.’ This could possibly be one of the most humble understatements of the year.

These are songs born of experience and doubt. The skipping country-rock of ‘Paint Yourself’, closer to the Meat Puppets than Laurel Canyon, the heartfelt ‘Regina Holding Hands’, White Denim’s take on Shuggie-style soul music (and signals, if it were needed, the emergence of a great singer), and the gentle, moody closer ‘Syncn’ details a relationship that can’t succeed. As bold a closer as ‘Radio Milk’ is an opener, with James’ voice nudged and encased by a fantastically restrained drum workout and predatory instrumentation until the vocal breakdown rounds out a triumphant return.

For all the contemplation Fits is effortlessly fun. There are more elements of jazz and soul than previously. Vocals sit in the mix rather than on top, effectively another instrument. The playing is, again, deft without being showy, and there are melodic hooks to spare. So what’s the secret? “We set the tempos high and set off,” says Petralli. It’s that simple. And it works. In spades.

Live Dates:
16th Brighton, The Pavilion, The Great Escape Festival (Full Time Hobby / Uncut stage)
20th Liverpool, Academy 2, Liverpool Sound City
21st London, Hoxton Bar & Kitchen, Stag And Dagger Festival
22nd Leeds, The Faversham, Stag And Dagger Festival
23rd Glasgow, Stereo, Stag And Dagger Festival

1. Radio Milk How Can You Stand It
2. All Consolation
3. Say What You Want
4. El Hard Attack DCWYW
5. I Start To Run
6. Sex Prayer
7. Mirrored And Reverse
8. Paint Yourself
9. I’d Have It Just The Way We Were
10. Everybody Somebody
11. Regina Holding Hands
12. Syncn

Praise for debut Workout Holiday
“a party record for thinking people” 4/5 Uncut Debut Album of the Month
“Workout Holiday really is a stunning record” 5/5 The Times Album of the Week
“Superb debut album… Magnificent” 5/5 Observer Music Monthly
“An endlessly listenable unique sound… utterly brilliant” 5/5 The Sun
“Genius. Spelling out the future of dirt-rock in blood… an unexpectedly odd joy” 8/10 NME
“great debut album… a marvellous vision of disorder” 4/5 Uncut
“The most exciting rock act out there right now” Mojo
“White Denim sound like the best rock ‘n’ roll party you’ve ever gate crashed” 4/5 Q
“An album of bewildering, blistering invention” Word
“A truly remarkable first effort” 4/5 The Fly
“Nobody has done it this well in aeons… an instant classic” The Guardian
“There are so many great things about Workout Holiday” 4/5 The Independent
“The first band I’ve ever seen worth mentioning in the same breath” (as classic US band
Minutemen) Sunday Telegraph 5/5 live review
“Fantastically compulsive and irresistible… Ace” 4/5 The Mirror
“They have the originality and diversity to make a serious global impact” Dazed & Confused
“A beautiful big magpie’s nest of a sound” I-D