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between 2009's acclaimed sophomore set 'fits' and this year's, er, acclaimed 'd', austin trio white denim got thirty three per cent bigger, played plenty of shows and recorded another album. and then gave it away to anyone who cared to download it, financial appreciation welcomed. 'last day of summer' is unique in the texan explorers' catalogue. rather than the result of long experimentation and their usual casually eclectic approach (typified by their much admired mixtapes), enforced restrictions offered new possibilities. the last white denim record made at drummer josh block's home studio, it also marked second guitarist austin jenkins's initiation as a full time member. there are obvious highlights such as the chiming, always pushing 'home together', maybe the most original recasting of the beach boys' sound that any american band has produced in years, steve terebecki's bassline timeless yet very much his own. the soulful live fave 'tony fatti', the gently epic, almost bluesy 'if you're changing' and 'some wild going outward', a playful horse opera quietly reminiscent of the byrds' great 'chestnut mare', with its stinging guitar lines and galloping drums. elsewhere elegant jazz-inflected instrumentals like 'incavaglia' and 'light light light' (featuring a great sax turn from alex coke), the closing vignette 'walk a line' and a reworking of 'i'd have it just the way we were' from fits stand out. but the unifying theme is looseness, an aural snapshot of a band fully at ease. no wonder petralli thinks it contains 'some of our best performances and material.' and we haven't even mentioned the r&b-flecked 'shy billy'.
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