There really are just too many bands. How to keep them all straight? Is it really that hard? The real problem is that there are only so many words in the English language and that I am oh so dumb. Truthfully, how many of you out there have bought tickets to the wrong show, assuming you’d heard of the band only to arrive and find that Rag Stewart is actually a ragtime take on Rod Stewart and not that hardcore band you thought they were? (THE NERVE!) That’s just a (fake) example, but we’re here to give you real ones, and to save you from the trouble of waisting hard-earned money on ragtime shows.
Up this week: White Lung and White Denim—two very different bands, but ones with names that are close enough (meaning one whole word off) that our dummo brains take more than a few seconds to parse out when we’re trying to quickly namedrop to friends, co-workers and loved ones. Assuming that you’re as stupid as I am and also confused by two things that are sorta alike, know that there’s no need to panic. I think I can help us figure this out.
White Denim has been around for 10 years—an eternity by indie standards—and in that time they’ve made a lot of big changes. They started off as one of the innumerable garage rock bands kicking around Texas, but, in the seven albums since, have borrowed from an eclectic range of other genres like psych, R&B, and soul. Think, like, a SXSW buzz band from five years ago.
White Lung is a ripping Canadian punk or, at least, punk-adjacent band. I say “punk-adjacent” because they play fast and loud, but aren’t beholden to a lot of the orthodoxies of a punk band. Their guitarist Kenneth William, for example, plays technically impressive lead parts that just happen to be at breakneck speeds, instead of simply slamming power chords. Similarly, singer Mish Way actually, well, sings.
White Denim put out their newest album, Stiff, in March. Thanks to a series of major line-up changes, this, the seventh album they’ve made, is really “like a debut record,” says frontman James Petralli.
White Lung also put out a new record this year: Paradise, which came out in May. Like their last few records, it slays.
White Denim started in the incestuous Austin music scene in 2005, when members of two bands, Parque Touch (which had Josh Block, James Petralli and Lucas Anderson) and Peach Train (which included bassist Steve Terebecki) played a show together. That’s just how these things happen. Afterward, the members of Parque Touch asked Terebecki to play with them in a new project, which quickly became a three-piece and took on the name White Denim when Anderson moved away. The new band quickly made a name for itself, winning Best New Band at the Austin Music Awards in 2008.
White Lung has had a pretty classic punk-band-turned-indie-darling trajectory. They formed in Vancouver in 2006 and spent the next six years playing relatively anonymously around that region’s basement/DIY circuit. Then, in 2012, they released their second album, Sorry, to much acclaim, which attracted the attention of the major-league indie label Domino, who released their next album, Deep Fantasy. Now they are millionaires with no problems, presumably.
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
White Denim White Denim bassist Steve Terebecki said the name was essentially given to the band on a lark: “We were really into the idea of having a really bad name. So we had a bad-name-off — we just wanted to get it over with. We named names for twenty minutes, and we had no idea we were going to be a band for four or five years and releasing records and touring. That’s it. We don’t have much of an emotional attachment to the name.”
White Lung Frontwoman Mish Way said in an interview with Pitchfork that the band chose the name because it sounded nice, but was actually disgusting—kind of, she says, like them: “The name White Lung doesn’t sound offensive, but it is a disgusting disease term—it’s what bakers get when they inhale flour and it gets packed in their lungs and makes them sick. It’s kind of like all of—we’re all a little disgusting.” It’s also pretty close to the “White Plague,” aka tuberculosis, a ravaging lung disease that destroys your body, but make you look sexier than ever in the process– kinda seems fitting, eh?
WHERE TO SEE THEM
White Denim is on tour in England right now, but will be back in the states next month and open for Band of Horses at SummerStage on September 22.
White Lung doesn’t have an local dates on the books yet, but you can catch them at Riot Fest in Denver and Chicago in September.