White Denim

Downtown Records, 2016

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Corsicana Lemonade was a solid album, one that betrayed its influences at times but held up well as a current example of Southern rock and a good-time front-porch beer-drinking disc at sunset. Stiff, the follow-up, falls well short of these criteria.

Part of this is due, no doubt, to two band members being replaced; new guitarist Jonathan Horne and drummer Jeffrey Olson are now on board to assist singer/guitarist James Petralli and bassist Steve Terebecki. But the main reason is in how the band is content to copy their influences and not add on them, to the point where you can quickly identify what the guys were listening to on the radio that day. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

It’s not that the songs are bad – they’re breezy and/or fun where needed – but they don’t have their own personality…save for the bad song titles. “Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah)” rewrites Grand Funk. “Holda You (I’m Psycho)” is a Zeppelin tribute. “There’s A Brain In My Head” mixes ‘60s British Invasion with a bit of Grateful Dead. “Take It Easy” brings Smokey Robinson and Motown to mind instantly. “Thank You” is sort of a Steely Dan song with a prog-rock introduction and a swirling tie-dye chorus. “(I’m The One) Big Big Fun” brings a very, very slight white funk to the table.

And that’s it. Really. I couldn’t tell you anything else about these songs beyond that. It’s essentially a Pandora ‘70s playlist. It’s not until the final few tracks that the band’s actual voice kicks into gear on “Real Deal Momma” and “Mirrored In Reverse,” which use the foundations of the band’s idols to create something more individual. In a sense, this is a debut by a new band, so it makes sense to revisit the past to find a new voice going forward.

Stiff is a quick listen at 35 minutes, but it’s hardly a necessary one, especially after the promises of Corsicana Lemonade. Here’s hoping the next album with this lineup finds its own path.

Rating: C-

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