White Denim: Side Effects Album Review

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By Neil Manning
Music Journalist

Artist: White Denim
Album: Side Effects
Release Date: March 29, 2019

White Denim, a band based out of Austin, recently released  their second album within a year’s time. Side Effects was released only seven months after Performance. Both albums are about 30 minutes in length, and feature nine total tracks.

Side Effects has a mix of different genres like most of White Denim’s discography. Impressive musicianship can be found throughout the whole album from intricate guitar parts to drums that perfectly create the foundation of the backbeat. It did feel that at some points throughout the album that the mixing could have been improved by bringing up the vocals a bit and putting them in front of the accompanying music.

I found the peak of this album to be right in the middle, with both the beginning and ending acting as a bit of a plateau. The climax of the album is found on the fourth track, “NY Money.” The intro of this song shows off the jazz influence of the band with swelling horn sounds that come and go while the drums are going erratic in the background, until the intro ends and the drums settle into a rock beat. Once the melody and vocals start, I felt like they were taking pages straight from Steely Dan’s book of songwriting. The songs has about a two minute long outro that is a jam of different guitars and keyboards coming and going playing their part. This continues the Steely Dan vibe with some dual guitars playing together while the song finishes with this jam.

Immediately after this six minute song, it goes into one minute primarily guitar song, “Out of Doors.” While very brief, this felt like a perfect buffer into the next song. The guitar is a great jam/solo that has interesting production around it that helps it feel fresh for being so short.

The peak of this album is rounded off with an instrumental that has excellent musicianship. The A part of this song feels familiar, but keeps your head nodding to the beat, as the guitar works in between with a tone that fits perfectly. As the song progresses, the B part comes in and feels much more grounded than the beginning. The keys have a nice groove and carry into the finale which picks up the speed and combines some of the elements from the previous two sections heard.

Overall, this album is solid, with “NY Money” being the standout track. It is worth the listen since it is such a quick album.

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