Though they are from Austin, and started out as a punk power trio, much of White Denim's ninth studio album, 2019's Side Effects, sounds like it could have been recorded by a psychedelic rock band in Los Angeles in 1969. That fuzz-tone, reverb, and echo-pedal sound is pretty much the aesthetic bandleaders James Petralli (vocals, guitars) and Steve Terebecki (bass) have been aiming for since at least 2011's D. While the lineup has gone through changes over the years (there are even at least three different drummers credited here), White Denim have remained remarkably consistent. Their second album for the City Slang label, Side Effects is intended as a loose companion piece to 2018's Performance, with the band building upon that album's glitter rock intimations, albeit with a wilder, more experimental intent. Amazingly, tracks like "Small Talk (Feeling Control)" and "Head Spinning" sound like something the Grateful Dead might have come up with if they had gotten hip to the D.C. hardcore of Bad Brains or Fugazi. Similarly, the diamond-eyed blues-rock of "Hallelujah Strike Gold" is pure Moby Grape with Black Keys-style production. Elsewhere, they deliver hushed '80s punk menace on "Shanala" and spiral headlong into the folk-rock ramble of "NY Money." There's even a quixotic, Jimmy Page-sounding instrumental in "Out of Doors" that pits a puckered British folk melody against bird sounds and sundry electronics. Essentially, Side Effects showcases White Denim's knack for making '60s- and '70s-style psychedelic garage rock that feels authentic but retains the modern punk energy that made their early albums so engaging.
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar