Southern Texas Rock
Austin, Texas. If Nashville is the home of country and folk, then Austin is the nurturing home of indie rockers renown, at least as of late. In decades past, Texas was a beacon of rock music – one doesn’t have to look any farther for proof than Texas greats ZZ Top. As a genre, indie music is malleable, encompassing everything from psychedelic rock with synthesizers to folk rock. Yet, like any trend-setting cultural phenomenon, music tends to return back to its roots on occasion.
A perfect example would be Austin quartet, White Denim. The group has been releasing dynamic rock albums since roughly 2006 and have just added another signpost along their career. Stiff, their latest release, is an album of in your face fun with a tinge of 1970s Texas rock. The album certainly rips from track to track. The songs each sound like they have their own engine rumbling throughout like a barrage of trucks chugging past you as you watch the traffic go by. As a whole, the album is clearly Southern-rock influenced, infused with celebratory melodies like cuts out of an Allman Brothers record.
Even after losing two original members, the group has risen out of the rubble and produced an album they’ve been waiting to make for some time. Their first single on the latest record, “Holda You (I’m Psycho)” sounds exactly like something the Allman Brothers would have produced, all with tight guitar strumming and melodies careening over one another.
After listening to the album, one could argue White Denim is a group of time travelers. Their songs sound like they robbed an old Texas studio and stole unreleased tracks from ZZ Top, but they do manage to pull off some slow tracks, namely the Al Green inspired, “Take It Easy (Ever After Lasting Love).” They pull it off well, but the album benefits from not having too many tracks that are slow. Clearly fast and in your face is the band’s specialty.
On the other hand, the album does tend to feel like tracks blend in with one another. One can imagine a show might tend to feel like one giant song.
Fans should be pleased with Stiff because it puts an end to the unease many probably experienced as two original members left the band. Perhaps this is the album that sets the quartet above their slump. One can only hope. We could all use a history lesson once in awhile.