Album Review – Corsicana Lemonade by White Denim (Downtown Music)

I am the first to admit that I am a bit of a snob when it comes to music. I know what I like and by the same token I know what I do not, and for some reason I am not very keen on bands who become too popular. I am not sure what that is all about. Do bands who become very successful lose something in my eyes? Is it their popularity which puts me off? Am I just perverse in preferring the obscure to the mainstream? Could be all three of course.


One band who have been subject to my strange and opaque leanings are The Kings of Leon. I had high hopes for them when they brought out their first album. They sounded to me to be tight, raw, and had something to say but we quickly parted company as the went off down what I regarded as the road to banality, or success, or both.

I say all this because it strikes me that White Denim sound to me like the band that I wanted the Kings of Leon to be; heavily blues influenced, eclectic in their influences, and brilliant musicians. Certainly from the evidence of this, their fifth album, they are very much in full flow and have produced a coherent body of music which would sit well beside other great modern blues bands most famously Black Keys and White Stripes.

I have not been particularly familiar with their earlier albums, but from a quick trawl through them suggests to me that Corsicana Lemonade sounds like they have pared back their sound and concentrated on writing good down to earth tunes. This really works for me since it helps bring out the excellence of their playing and suggests a band who enjoy their music. Indeed this is a very uplifting album that reminds me of old favourites such as the Allman Brothers, Crosby Stills and Nash, Thin Lizzy and Badfinger. This, then is an album with soul, which is also very soulful; and Stevie Wonder also comes frequently comes to mind as I listen.

Given how I started this piece I am also left reflecting why I lose my way with so many contemporary bands who become successful, while still lauding great bands of the past. Is there a statue of limitations that allow things to become cool again? Or is it  bands like White Denim who allow us to appreciate what we had previously written off?

There is a lot in this for me. This is because punk washed away a lot of babies when it upturned the musical bathwater; and albums like this allow me to reassess what had gone before yet present it in a contemporary and relevant manner.

Whatever. This is an album that I have been listening to a lot over the last week or so and I can safely say that they are not about to be cast into the graveyard of my musical preconceptions. Nevertheless, should this album succeed to the extent that it deserves, however, I might have to re-assess this opinion.

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