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- White Denim »
On a most wretched and rain-sodden Monday night, The Bodega is a breathless hive of anticipation for Texan trio White Denim; this despite the fact their debut album Workout Holiday has only been in the shops a week.
From their frazzled appearance through to the way they re-hash the past - albeit with an energetic panache - you get the impression that bands like White Denim are ten-a-penny in their home state, yet for 45 minutes this evening their unashamedly retro rock makes for as fresh and exciting a stage show as Nottingham's gig-going fraternity have seen in ages. From the moment they open with the pulsating blues-tinged instrumental 'WDA' (think Lynyrd Skynyrd doing post-rock), their performance borders on the relentless, pausing occasionally every three or four songs to draw breath, or simply remind us who they are and where they originate from.
Standing out (all three members perform in a line - there's no ‘frontman’ as such here) like a sore thumb throughout drummer Josh Block, and the way he beats the life out of his kit as though its just had its way with his sister and spat in the direction of his mother.
Anyone familiar with Workout Holiday could be forgiven for thinking they're watching a completely different band altogether here, such is the way the songs are developed and transformed to almost unrecognisable beings compared to their recorded counterparts. Lead single 'Let's Talk About It' might sound like a long-lost Devo 45 on the radio, but here it resonates with a ferocity not witnessed since the embryonic days of Sub Pop, complete with a prolonged dub workout over the song's coda. 'Mess Your Hair Up' and 'All You Really Have To Do' also receive makeovers that bring to mind the destructive urges of the MC5 combined with the more subtle tendencies of The Hold Steady, particularly in James Petralli's soulful falsetto-bordering howl.
White Denim may not be the most original band you'll ever see, but as dynamic onstage performances go, they're also one of the least forgettable on the circuit. If a production line of such bands does exist somewhere between Austin and Dallas, do you think we could set up an exchange programme where all the lumpen lad-rock clones over here could swap places with their garage-reared stateside cousins? Oh, go on…
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