White Denim

White Denim

"It has taken five records to make one that sounds the way we do onstage," says White Denim frontman James Petralli, explaining the band's new full-length "Corsicana Lemonade."

Set for release October 2013 via Downtown Records, "Corsicana Lemonade" puts White Denim's freewheeling stage ethos to wax and cements their position as a quintessential, unique American rock band. Featuring production on two songs and a full mix from iconic songwriter Jeff Tweedy, it's a revelation, merging the group's manic live virtuosity into a rollicking ten-song mission statement.

The Austin, TX four-piece is no stranger to mixing crunchy punk energy, scorched psychedelia, Southern rock and knotty funk, but "Corsicana Lemonade," the group's fifth studio album, naturally covers so many bases that it plays like the greatest lost mixtape you could find on your dashboard during a hot summer afternoon.

Since its formation in 2005 and first string of EPs in 2007, White Denim has steadily expanded its sound. From the rootsy classicism of "Last Day Of Summer" (2010) and noisy sun-soaked sizzle of "Fits" (2009) to the soft-edged riffage of "D" (2011), the group's commitment to fiery live performance, textured exploration and blissful interludes has never wavered. It peaks on "Corsicana Lemonade."

Album sessions started in Chicago at fabled Wilco compound The Loft with Jeff Tweedy (and frequent production partner Tom Schick) manning the boards and providing motivation. The record was almost entirely recorded live with full-band takes, ensuring a lived-in live feel.

"Before, we had kind of leaned on the ability to give the impression of a full live band on our recordings. That Protools Rock is way more common than people know," says Petralli. "On 'Corsicana Lemonade,' it was actually the band playing together and doing takes as a whole. Whatever sounded best was what we stuck with."

After the Chicago sessions, White Denim returned to their native Austin, holing-up in a house overlooking Lake Travis from a 100-foot cliff. There, with the help of local producer Jim Vollentine, the band designed a makeshift studio, wheeled in a bunch of crazy '50s gear and solidified the mixture of hard and classic rock elements that they began exploring on their fourth album "D."

The record's songs feel at home with the skuzzy rawness of contemporaries like The Black Keys or Jack White and the Americana experimentalism of Wilco, while the band cites the classic rock shuffles of Thin Lizzy and The Allman Brothers' instrumental ecstasy as primary influences.

And now, with the support of leading publications like the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and Relix, as well as adoring crowds from Bonnaroo to their sold-out headlining tours, White Denim has fully arrived with a record to claim their own spot in America's great rock lineage.

"Corsicana Lemonade" is available in October 29, 2013 via Downtown Records. Catch the band at Austin City Limits this October and on tour with Tame Impala this fall.

The Districts

It's not uncommon for musicians to grow and evolve between releases -- but even by those standards, the Districts' Popular Manipulations is stunning. The Pennsylvania-borne band's third full-length represents an exponential leap in sound and cohesion, an impressive and impassioned burn with a wide scope that threatens to swallow everything else surrounding it. Perhaps it's a cliché to say so, but while listening, you might find yourself wondering why people don't make indie rock like this anymore.

The total electric charge of Popular Manipulations is just the latest evolution for the impressively young quartet, whose founding members -- vocalist/guitarist Rob Grote, bassist Connor Jacobus, and drummer Braden Lawrence -- have known each other since attending grade school together in the Pennsylvania town of Lititz. After deciding to form a band in high school, the Districts gigged hard in the tri-state area, releasing a slew of promising material (including the rootsy 2012 debut Telephone) before catching the eye of venerable indie Fat Possum. 2015's A Flourish and a Spoil found the band refining their embryonic sound with veteran producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Kurt Vile) -- and looking back on that release, there are glimmers of Popular Manipulations in chrysalis form to be found on it, hints of the fence-swinging anthemic sound they'd soon make wholly their own.

After touring behind A Flourish and a Spoil, Grote began "playing with different ideas" in his own songwriting by making demos at a prolific pace. "We knew that we wanted to change some things musically, so we were trying to come up with as many songs as possible to narrow the direction we wanted to take the material," he states. In total, they ended up with 50 song ideas, and so they were off to LA in May of 2016 with new guitarist Pat Cassidy in tow to log more recording time with Congleton, with four of Popular Manipulations' songs coming out of the sessions.

"We have a lot of overlapping tastes and preferences for how things are made," Grote gushes about working with the notably reliable studio wizard -- but acceding all credit to Congleton (who also handled the record's mixdown) would be shortchanging the Districts themselves, who went on to self-produce the remainder of the record in Philadelphia with engineer Keith Abrams. "Something we took from working with Congleton was ideas on arranging songs," Grote explains, and they certainly learned a lot: Popular Manipulations is a raucous and impressively thick-sounding album, overflowing with toothy melodies that pack a serious punch.

The distinctly intense sound of Popular Manipulations -- charging guitars, thunderous drumming, and Grote's searing vocals -- was brought on by a few cited influences, from shoegaze's aggressive swirl to the Velvet Underground's impeccable drone-rock sound. There's a distinctly Canadian flavor to this brand of indie rock, too; Spencer Krug's anthemic, lushly inscrutable work in Wolf Parade and his defunct Sunset Rubdown side project comes to mind, as does 2000s Toronto barnburners the Diableros' overlooked 2006 gem You Can't Break the Strings in Our Olympic Hearts.

But don't mistake easy comparisons for a lack of originality: on Popular Manipulations, the District are in a lane entirely their own, exploring lyrical themes of isolation and abandonment in a way that ups the music's already highly charged emotional quotient. "Capable" finds Grote turning his focus to the ruinous aftermath of divorce, and "Before I Wake" is, in his words, "About coming to terms with being isolated or alone -- even though we have a whole group of voices singing the whole time." Grote explains that even the title of the record touches on these universal concerns: "It hints at how people use each other, for good or bad, and the personal ways you manipulate yourself and other people in day-to-day interactions."

For such weighty thematic material, though, Popular Manipulations is purely life-affirming rock music, bursting with energy that cuts through the darkness of the world that surrounds us. "We're a much better distillation of who we wish to be as a band," Grote reflects on the journey that has led the Districts to this point. "We've figured out how to distill the things we've been trying to accomplish as a band, musically and lyrically. We've always viewed making music as something we're trying to do better the whole time." Mission accomplished.

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