Even though Austin-based rock band White Denim spent just four days in the studio with producer Jeff Tweedy working on 2013’s “Corsicana Lemonade,” the Wilco founder loomed large over the remainder of the sessions.
“There was one point,” drummer Josh Block says, “where I started playing a complicated rhythmic pattern on the rim and [Tweedy] started doing over-the-top, cheesy tap-dancing moves. … I [was] embarrassed — that was obviously a bad idea. For two months after, I could imagine Tweedy making a funny face or tap-dancing over [what I played].”
Tweedy ended up mixing the record and producing two tracks — the jazzy near-ballad “A Place to Start” and garage-rocker “Distant Relative Salute” — giving the album a polished sheen unlike White Denim’s prior releases. Most of the band’s early albums were recorded in middle-of-nowhere Texas in a 1940s-era Spartan trailer that Block used to call home. (He now lives in a proper domicile with his wife in Dallas).
“It was an open-door policy at the trailer,” Block says. During those formative days, everyone operated under the idea that “there are no limits,” he says. “Whatever you want to do, try it out and if it works, it works. … If it doesn’t work, we’re not going to take it out, we’re just going to tuck it into the mix somewhere.”
The albums followed suit: 2009’s “Fits” is a bit messy; 2010’s self-released “Last Day of Summer” is laid-back and a little weird; a more refined sound creeps in on 2011’s “D,” the first White Denim album recorded in a proper studio.
For “Corsicana Lemonade,” the four-piece’s fifth record, Block says “we were trying to get everything together: the live show, the old recordings and a new, forward movement [that] came together through less ideas.”
Less ideas didn’t necessarily mean scaling back the group’s genre-hopping, hodgepodge sound. (Block calls it “fusion” but adds that “I don’t think anybody really wants to hear that.”)
Listen to the album — or better yet, see the band live — and you’ll hear psychedelia, Texas-tinged blues, prog rock, soul, jazz, Latin rhythms … the list goes on (and on).
“We’re a band that enjoys each other’s influences and tries to learn from each other,” Block says. “Rock ’n’ roll kind of is everything. That’s why we like to call ourselves a rock band — you get to be anything.”
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