White Denim: “Bess St.”
Despite what you may have heard, it can be really tough for a band to break out of “The Live Music Capital.” Maybe it’s that in Austin we’re over an hour’s drive to the nearest big city and about five to the nearest state line. Whatever it is, we are most definitely spoiled by great music here in town. So when a great, innovative band like White Denim (they have their own Wikipedia page and opened for Wilco for goodness’ sakes!) slips the Violet Crown and finds some measure of success nationally (and internationally) it can be a bittersweet thing. We want them to spread the gospel far and wide, but, selfishly, we want to keep a little bit of the magic for ourselves. Luckily, White Denim, still counts our little town on the Colorado as a homebase, and we couldn’t be happier.
The three-piece is guitarist (and vocalist) John Petralli, bassist Steve Terebecki and drummer Josh Block. Together they create a sound that’s, paradoxically, a bit garage-y, a bit proggy and all kinds of gutsy. The issued their first recordings half a decade ago on their own followed by their 2008 full-length debut Workout Holiday. With the following year’s full-length Fits, the band refined and streamlined their sound, incorporating more prog and psych elements to their punky, garage-y blues attack. With last year’s excellent album D, the band grew even more–literally, with the addition of second guitarist Austin Jenkins and artistically. D is experimental, yet firmly grounded. The swirling, dancing guitars always return to familiar rocky ground.
Today’s song of the day comes from an April 2011 live performance in Studio 1A of a cut from D. The song, “Bess St.” epitomizes how far the band came in just a few short years. Petralli’s vocals have just a touch of soul, and the band weaves in delicately textured prog into the driving rocker. From grimey garage rock, to one of the nation’s premier acts, we’re lucky to count White Denim as one of our own.
This weekend the band will be bringing some of their magic to sleepy Utopia, Texas at this year’s UTOPIAfest where they’ll be performing Saturday at 5:45.