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CD Revue

White Denim, The Brunettes and Roky Erickson


White Denim, Let’s Talk About It (Self-Released)
One of the best bands to appear at this year’s South By Southwest music festival, White Denim proved you don’t need a badge to rock. The Austin, Texas-based drums-bass-guitar trio blew the roof off a tiny club on a dead-end road during an unofficial blogger-hosted-day party, sending some much-needed shockwaves through blurry-eyed audience members who didn’t quite have their bearings before beer o’clock. Thanks to some hilarious chemistry (particularly when each member shouts random jibberish. It works. I promise), complex time signatures and Devo-esque post-punk beats, White Denim had us shaking like speed freaks and laughing like fools. Their short-and-sweet debut EP Let’s Talk About It comes this close to capturing the group’s live energy, with the standout title track and booty-shaking “I Can Tell.” When they cry, “Did you forget to chew your medicine, honey?” you want to take whatever it is they’re on, chew, swallow and repeat. White Denim is available on iTunes, but you should really ask your favorite local record store to ship in a hard copy—it comes with a nifty 7-inch! And, please, someone sign these dudes already. (

The Brunettes, Structure & Cosmetics
(Sub Pop)
Brighter than a shiny penny, New Zealand duo The Brunettes take the states by storm with their Sub Pop debut Structure & Cosmetics, combining elements of ’80s new wave, ’60s bubblegum pop, ’70s soft-rock, a groovy Jetsons sensibility (“If you were alien, I’d call you my Martian man”) and even a little Wild West harmonica into one earnest but none-too-serious package. Throughout the shifting themes, Jonathan Bree and Heather Mansfield don’t so much sing as croon and coo mostly about love (the two enjoyed a brief romance before entering into a strictly business partnership) but also about selling out and Scientology. And, while Bree’s voice is more suited for duets, his occasional solo hardly detracts from an album that’s perfect for road trips, picnics and cocktail parties, preferably somewhere in Laurel Canyon circa 1973. (


You’re Gonna Miss Me
  (Palm Pictures)
Thanks to High Fidelity, a new generation tuned in to psychedelic Texas rockers 13th Floor Elevators only to wonder whatever happened to frontman Roky Erickson and his possessed howl. Director Keven McAlester sheds harsh light on the troubled singer’s absence, with fly-on-the-wall coverage and home-movie footage that reveals strained family ties and various forms of institutionalism. The film tracks Erickson’s journey from popular musician to petty criminal and resident at the Rusk State Hospital after more than 300 hits of LSD, followed by 20 years of self-imposed isolation likely—but not necessarily—attributable to schizophrenia. Heartbreaking scenes of Erickson zoning out to white noise, playing with a Mr. Potato Head doll and keeping a log of his junk mail inspire knee-jerk criticism of his very bizarre mother. “Take care of your son!” you want to scream, a reaction shared by Roky’s brother Sumner who fights for custodial rights—and wins. It seems, however, no one is to blame. DVD extras only confuse the issue and one walks away knowing only that Roky is loved and insanely talented—but maybe not so insane. (