Blue Bear School of Music Benefit featuring
The New Up
When a band's first album is unpredictable enough to invoke comparisons with artists as wildly diverse as hardcore innovators the Minutemen and professorial idiosyncrasy of Randy Newman, then you can reasonably assume its been made by people who care about music. Lots of it. Jazz, punk, funk, country, acid rock, even piano ballads -- all these labels have been used, accurately, to describe White Denim. Their second record is more problematic though. It has to sound like them.
Fits; the title is both a knowingly bad pun and a reference to the odd tantrum endured in its creation- manages just that. Anyone familiar with the ferocious drive of the Texan trio's renowned live shows, where songs merge into each other and the playing guides the direction of the performance, will recognize their approach. Recorded and produced by the band in their infamous studio/trailer, Fits is more coherent than debut Workout Holiday, yet sacrifices none of its imagination. Though there's barely a pause between tracks the set ebbs and flows, ranging from the soft-hearted to the ferocious.
The band describes it, with only light sarcasm, as The Friendship Record. 'We were congratulating each other for having good ideas," says singer/guitarist James Petralli of the sessions, "We went through a lot of positive and negative things and came out of it a lot closer."
For all the contemplation, Fits is effortlessly fun. There are more elements of jazz and soul than previously. Vocals sit in the mix rather than on top, effectively another instrument. The playing is, again, deft without being showy, and there are melodic hooks to spare. So what's the secret? "We set the tempos high and set off," says Petralli. It's that simple. And it works. In spades.