White Denim

There is a place just north of Red Bluff where the Sacramento River flows backward. It’s quite discombobulating when you come upon it—the river slicing north against all notions of normalcy. Of course, it’s only an illusion; if you could remove yourself from the constraints of gravity and levitate above the Earth, you would see that the river simply makes a turn there and a couple of miles later it turns itself southward again, heading assuredly toward the Pacific Ocean. Great psychedelic music is like that, allowing us to view strange things as they really are: not strange at all, just simple things viewed from awkward angles. White Denim builds a backward-flowing river on D, their fourth full-length. Moving through Southern-rock-tinged rockers (“It’s Him!”), flute-laden Latin jams (“River to Consider”), and laid-back AM-country numbers (“Keys”), White Denim covers commonly trod psych tropes: uncommon time signatures, warm baths of delayed guitars and vocals, and sudden changes in mood, tempo and coherence. With repeated listens these reveal themselves as momentary bends in an otherwise unstoppable river. Everything—even the showy guitar interplay that can so often sink lesser efforts—serves the songs themselves, which just happen to be the best of the band’s career.