Creating a proper jam-band record is an arduous task to say the least. I’ve witnessed countless cases of frustration as so-called ‘jam sections’ extend well in to the 4-minute mark while band members disappear into a musical world that isn’t nearly as accessible or interesting as they seem to think. However, there’s something to be said for fulfilling musical expression that remains accessible to the listener, and that’s exactly what White Denim have accomplished with their fourth formal full-length.
This four-piece out of Austin, TX have been defined as many things since their inception in 2006 and yet D, the group’s most recent release seems to provide palpable evidence that theirs is a sound far too peculiar to allow straightforward categorization. Pulling influence from musically adept bands such as Rush and Phish, the melodies and rhythms are intricately complex. Luckily this is a band that can pull it off; the obviously polished talent that each member exudes results in an unyieldingly tight and truly enjoyable wall of sound.
A perfect example lies in, “Anvil Everything,” a song vaguely evocative of CSNY’s “Suite Judy Blue Eyes” and in “Burnished,” where odd rhythms and complicated bass lines prove this band is more than capable of pulling off a few tricks. Intricate song structures also seem to be a favorite as illustrated by “Bess St.” featuring a meter shift from a simple 4/4 to a widely avoided 5/8. However, the album does feature more straightforward tracks such as “River To Consider,” a 70’s-esque track featuring Jethro Tull-style flute and a dancable Latin rhythm that would sound at home on the soundtrack for Three’s Company.
Whether you’re an adamant proponent of jam bands or consider yourself of the “IT’S JUST NOISE!” persuasion, I think you’ll find something to appreciate on this album. Some songs require more attention – more focus – from the listener, sure, but there are certainly a few cuts perfectly suited for placement on a relaxing mix tape. I think more than anything this LP will provide a bit of much-needed variety to an otherwise static musical landscape.