White Denim at House of Blues

Austin’s own White Denim is four albums deep, but recently released a 4-song EP called Takes Place in Your Work Place (streamable & downloadable here). I will admit that I shallowly judged this EP by its garrulous title and a questionable choice in album artwork. However, I began to be swayed when I noticed the first track on the EP is called “Cat City”. As a world renowned cat enthusiast, I appreciated and was amused by this, more than I could describe in words. My mind immediately envisioned an urban cat utopia flowing with milk products, cat nip, parks with space heaters, and scratching post skyscrapers. Maybe that’s sad or totally insane; I don’t know.

Anyway, ”Cat City” starts off choo-chooing along in a recognizable, almost generic way. The lyrics are hardly audible and the guitars are not entirely discernible from brushy drum work. However, the track takes an excellent and quite unexpected turn when some fuzzy guitar comes in and leads the song somewhere between a rock and a jazz place. The beginning of the second track “No Real Reason” reminds me much of early Dr. Dog, who is known for their homage-paying to slightly Southern-flavored classic rock that has been stripped down to its most sentimental parts, similarly to what White Denim has going on at times. The reverberating vocals make more sense in the context of relatively spotless guitar riffs. The end of the song is drawn out and enjoyable, reminding me of an alternative version of the Velvet Underground or maybe some other pseudo-post punk band like The Globes.

The third track has a more folksy feel to it, especially with the defined presence of rushed acoustic and slide guitars, strings and staccato-ed drums. The final track “Company” sounds what I imagine a song-baby by Grizzly Bear and the Rolling Stones might sound like if it grew up listening primarily to Garage Rock and upbeat Post-Punk.

Disclaimer: Perhaps I should have previously noted that when I make comparisons to any of a number of other bands, I usually mean something positive by it. In my view, all music suffers or grows from some form of a post-modern condition, namely that it mostly doomed to sound like a version of something else. “Originality is nothing but judicious imitation. The most original writers borrowed one from another,” as Voltaire put it.

On that note, I highly recommend checking out the linked video clips; I tried to find relevant and deletable pieces of music to give a glimpse at what kind of context a band like this can have for nerds like me. Perhaps what I’m getting at is that I think White Denim does a great job of seamlessly tying in what sounds like a number of influences into something enjoyable — which is one of the only things that matter in music if you think about it.

White Denim will be playing at Chicago’s House of Blues on Monday November 11th with Manchester Orchestra and The Dear Hunter. More info and tickets here.