PERFORMANCE - (clear vinyl)
If the album’s title seems meaningful in its deadpan simplicity, it is. There is, of course, the meaning of “performance” that applies to anyone for whom the live arena is the proving ground. There’s also something more personal but universally acknowledged – the gap that exists between what we project and who we really are. “There is something absurd and isolating in continuing this pursuit for personal connection on such a wide scale. When writing an album I essentially leave my actual life, retreat deeper into myself and as it nears completion, I evaluate my work based on my own extremely skewed notion of what is widely relatable and still legitimately cool,” says Petralli. “My idea of cool is most significantly shaped by Steve’s body language when we are talking through ideas in session.” It has been said that “A clown enriched knows neither relation nor friend.”
Performance was mainly recorded over eight weeks at the band’s new downtown Austin studio, Radio Milk. Once an old general store constructed in 1902, it is now respectfully restored and sandwiched in between bars and modern condominiums. Two new players were key in what Petralli describes as “a super-collaborative record:” keyboardist Michael Hunter, a “young, humble genius with endless potential” and Conrad Choucroun, a “ridiculously solid” drummer with a long stint with NRBQ on his resume. “If you take nothing else from this at least take some time to listen to NRBQ, rock & roll scholars who shared members with the Sun Ra Arkestra” advises Petralli. It makes sense that White Denim would develop a kinship with a player from their circle. In many ways, they are a continuation of that sort of group. One that will never stop pushing and taking every opportunity to shine a light on and exemplify what is truly good about Rock & Roll music.
Categorically speaking, White Denim is still impossible to narrowly pin down. There’s the glam-rock strut of “Magazin” and “It Might Get Dark,” the dueling guitars on the low-slung blues prog of “Moves On”, and the sideways jazz of “Sky Beaming.” There are plenty of pleasingly unexpected musical moments on the title track and the easy-rolling closer “Good News,” along with some seriously distorted guitar. In the title track, Petralli sings, “Flashing light in a tunnel, You’re indicating a change.” In many ways, White Denim is the flashing light in a dark and crowded tunnel of showbiz glop. Quietly and fiercely finding themselves -- and us -- through their work.