Review: White Denim — “Side Effects”

Since White Denim’s fantastic and criminally underappreciated 2018 release “Performance” I’ve considered myself a pretty massive fan of the band’s music, even if I was late to the party. These guys have an invigorating blend of swirling, electrifying Psychedelia experimentation and accessible, chorus-heavy Classic Rock revival jams that I haven’t been able to get out of my head for months now.

Hearing that they were coming out with a follow up to my favorite record in only 8 months had me incredibly nervous as I genuinely didn’t think they could pull it off. Fortunately, I am beyond ecstatic to say — this album not only met my expectations but blew them out of the water.

White Denim Photograph Pooneh Ghana
photo: Pooneh Ghana
 

Innovation in Refinement

This record took a little while to grow on me, as on my first few spins. I thought it was just a bunch of cutting room floor throwaways from Performance that they decided to release as a novelty. But the more I dove into this release the more I realized that couldn’t be further from the truth.

This album takes everything the band mastered with their last album and refines the formula to make it feel even more fresh and incredible. They doubled down on their adventurous spirit and tendency to experiment on this record, creating something that feels so unbelievably original and bubbling over with personality.


The band finds something to make every single song sound super unique and delectably vibrant, whether that be dissonant and off-kilter saxophone solos or the music of birds chirping in the wind. There’s something within tracks here that’s super out there and colorful… Something that you would never expect to hear and particularly never expects to fall in love with!

They defy expectations on that front though as there isn’t a cut on here that doesn’t feel entirely new and innovative, without abandoning everything that made their last offering so great.

 

High-Class Musicianship

Part of what makes these guys so great is just how great they are at performing and playing their instruments. Watching them live is a massive treat. I highly recommend at least checking out some footage of them playing even if you can’t make a show. They are super capable and awesome musicians that can play with the best! The super fuzzy guitars are so playful and unique that I could instantly recognize their sound anywhere.


They have so many notable riffs throughout their discography that make diving into their back catalog a guitarist’s paradise. Their drummer is super punchy and dynamic here too, keeping things really peppy without skipping a single beat. The bass tones and groovy bass lines act as the glue for the band, as their super talented bass player always has some cheeky runs to interject into the mix of things. It’s fascinating to listen and pick apart their performances because you’ll quickly find that they’re impeccable.

 

Memorable Songwriting

Outside of the guys just playing well in general and providing plenty of experimental gimmicks to keep listeners interested. The songs are all perfectly penned at their core as well. Many of these cuts can honestly stand toe to toe with many of the greatest ’60s and 70’s bands which they get their inspiration from. And that’s not something I would ever say lightly.


I could easily throw these guys into a playlist with The Beatles, or any other legendary groups from that era, and not notice even a slight dip in songwriting quality when they come on. Every little moment is beautifully written to be super effective and full of memorable little nuances that will keep your ears open to soak up every serene, playful little note.

 

One of the Most Promising Groups Out There

White Denim is a band that is quickly proving to be some of the most promising musicians on the market right now with fantastic release after fantastic release. They show little to no sign of stopping anytime soon.

I have to give this as high of a recommendation as I possibly can to about anyone honestly, cause it’s so addictively fun that I’d imagine. These guys are the band that you’re going to keep your eyes and ears open for. If you haven’t listened to both Side Effects and Performance yet I would implore you to do so.

Must-listen to: Hallelujah Strike Gold, NY Money, Head Spinning

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