White Denim, “Stiff”

White DenimWhite_Denim-2016-Stiff
Stiff
DOWNTOWN
7/10

Dusty and stoned, White Denim’s early work perfectly echoed its roots in Austin psychobilly—not that we’re suggesting the band was thusly decked out, but they probably were. As they evolved, WD’s sound brushed itself off, and by 2013’s (partially) Jeff Tweedy–produced  Corsicana Lemonade, they were sounding positively indie-hip.

Stiff makes a grand leap into polished retro cock-rock territory with nimble riffage and tight vocals that instantly recall Thin Lizzy. Star producer progeny Ethan Johns (look up the dad, kids) is to thank for the newfound crispness, which adds jet power to every track and brings James Petralli’s vocals to the fore as never before. Standouts include the Saturday night cruiser “Had 2 Know (Personal),” and the funkified “Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah).” The remainder of the album veers from Meat Puppets–style mania to white-boy slow jams, while closer “Thank You” is pure ’70s AM radio funk pop. 

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