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Video of the…er…Current Indeterminate Interval of Time: “I’m Shakin'” by Jack White February 21, 2013

Filed under: Jack White,Video of the Week — yourbirdcansing88 @ 12:25 AM
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If you’re a faithful follower of my blog (yeah, as if), you probably know that I love me some Jack White.  And if you recall the last time I posted about Jack White, you’ll remember that this was my reaction to his then-pretty-new music video for “Freedom at 21”:

SIX MONTHS DUNGEON!

THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!

(in case it isn’t obvious, the big angry sourpuss is supposed to be me. The handsome peppermint dandy is Jack. Because well duh)
 

I’m not even going to trouble myself with explaining once again why I had such an averse reaction to the video.  If you’re curious, you can read it all here (hint:  sexism and cliches beget such ugly babies).  Well, I want you all to know that even though I still consider the aforementioned video to be a pathetic disappointment, I’ve decided not to let that weigh too much on my opinion of Mr. White, because since then he’s done several things to remind me that he’s still absolutely wonderful.  And one of those things was his next video, “I’m Shakin'”, which came out back in October or whenever.  Yeah, I was going to write about it back then, but only a few days after I discovered the video, Sandy happened, and I was living in (okay, a really spoiled version of) the dark ages for several days.  Thus, my plans for this blog post kind of fell by the wayside.  The reason I’m writing about it now is because I’ve recently fallen even more head-over-heels back in love with Jack White since then, what with him performing on the Grammys a couple weeks ago, which actually gave me a reason to bother watching the Grammys, which I haven’t done since 2009 (back when Consolers of the Lonely was up for some awards but didn’t get anything, so I wasted a good two or three hours waiting to at least see the Raconteurs accept an award, but to no avail.  That’s right; Jack White is pretty much my only reason to ever watch the Grammys).  And well, that rekindled my love for the man all over again, to the point that I spent Valentine’s Day watching my DVDs of Under Blackpool Lights, It Might Get Loud, and Under Great White Northern Lights to celebrate my unabashed fangirl love for the man (I’m single and unemployed; what else am I supposed to do?).

If feeling this way about Jack White is wrong, I am neither willing nor capable of being right.

So here’s an illustration of my current attitude towards Mr. White. Yup, back to normal.

Anyway, more about this video:  it’s basically the most badass Doublemint gum commercial that never happened.  There’s two Jack Whites in this video (because the only thing that could possibly be better than one Jack White is two Jack Whites), one fronting each of his two backing bands, the all-male Buzzards and the all-female Peacocks (which I think is a weird name for an all-female group, considering peacocks are, by definition, male peafowl.  But peahens are neither as well-known, nor nearly as pretty as their male counterparts, so whatevs.  I’d say birds are weird that way, but it’s actually humans who have all the weird ideas about gender presentation).  Yay for pretty much equal representation of men and women!  And yay for badass women rockers!  Special mention also goes to Jack’s two female backup singers, who, along with Jack, get to perform with both groups, which means that the ones performing with the Buzzards get to wear some snazzy suits.  Not stripperiffic versions of male uniforms, either; I mean suits that are maybe tailored a bit more to the female body, but otherwise just like the suits the dudes are wearing.  They even got hats.  Now the only thing that would make this even more perfect is if one of the Jacks was wearing a kilt (he’s been known to wear kilts on occasion, or at least back when he was in The White Stripes and The Raconteurs.  He’s part-Scottish and everything, too), but hey, the photo-negative-y suits he wears are awesome enough (and for me, kinda reminiscent of “Daddy’s Song”).  Plus, the two dancers who are in the video for no discernable reason beyond just being totally awesome (I’m especially impressed with the male dancer’s moves.  Holy crap).  And then there’s  that little wiggle Jack does at about 1:50-1:53 which is the most adorable thing in the whole wide world.  Well, that and the way Jack pronounces the word “nervous” in the song (I’d say it was in a “Joizee” accent, if it weren’t for the fact that I’m from New Jersey and know better.  But I’ve been in love with that pronunciation of “nervous” ever since I heard Mae West say it in She Done Him Wrong).  So anyway, enjoy.

 

 

What is this Crap? August 8, 2012

Okay, so, like, a few weeks ago, Jack White, a man for whom I’ve made my appreciation quite clear on multiple occasions from nearly the beginning of this blog, came out with a new music video, for the song “Freedom at 21” from his solo album.  Predictably, Rolling Stone magazine, a publication I have an ambivalent view towards but continue to subscribe to and still take some sort of masochistic joy in flipping through, has nothing but praise for the video in the “Playlist” section of its latest issue (August 16, 2012).  Less predictably, the same video has utterly failed to impress me.  Which means that Rolling Stone magazine would actually bend down further to kiss Jack White’s ass than I would.  And it’s not just because I’m significantly shorter than the average adult journalist, either.

 

I’m not about to call “Judas!” or anything on Mr. White, but what the hell?  Frankly I expected better from the guy who was allegedly unhappy with how the video for “I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself” turned out.  I mean, what is this?  Sexy lady writhing around on the hood of a car?  Oh, like that’s never been done before (okay, full disclosure here:  I actually really like the Rihanna and Whitesnake videos.  And no, even I don’t have any explanation for the Whitesnake one.  As for the QOTSA vid, it’s probably one of the most unique uses of this trope.  That being said, it’s also one of the most mind-screwy, plus the animation style kinda creeps me out).  Some kind of weird jailbird fantasy with sexy half-naked inmates?  Maybe not quite as cliché, but Gaga did it better (not to mention tweaked the script by making out with a fully clothed, non-heterosexual-male-gaze-targeting butch babe.  You know you’re pushing the audience’s suspension of disbelief when Lady Gaga’s videos start looking more true-to-life than your own.  How did Jack end up in a women’s prison, anyway?).  This isn’t even the first time Jack White’s busted outta the big house in a music video (see “Hands” by The Raconteurs.  Which is, in my humble opinion, better than “Freedom at 21” in every conceivable way.  Also, it’s an abundant source of warm fuzzies).  And no, I’m not about to let you off easy just for putting a woman in a position of authority, as the police officer who chases Jack down, pulls him over, and informs him that he’s under arrest for (from what I can tell, anyway) being a very, very bad boy.  And that’s fine (and not completely dissimilar to some Jack White-related fantasies I might have.  Hey, I’m only human).  But why is she wearing short-shorts when all the other (i.e. male) cops in the music video get to wear pants?  I mean, it’s not really fair that the guys get to be cops while the woman’s job as a police officer is secondary to her function as eyecandy.  And then you get to the jail scene and — oh, look who it is?  Apparently Officer Halloween Sexcop is from a set of identical triplets, and the other two just happen to be Ms. Prisoner O’Love and Lady Hood Ornament.  And they’re all allergic to pants!  Seriously, though, I’d maybe be the slightest bit more okay with all this superfluous ladyflesh if only Jack got more naked in this video.  And not just for my own perverted pleasure (although, well, I have needs too, y’know?), but because enough already with this double standard.  I’m sick of these tired, boring-ass music videos where women’s bodies are constantly on display while the men get to wear clothes and have some semblance of a personality, and who might be sexy but that’s just incidental to who they are as a whole, while women have to be sexy before they can be interesting, even in cases where they are the artist who’s starring in the video.  And sure, that may be enough to attract a certain demographic (i.e. horny entitlement-poisoned heterosexual male douchebags who can’t be bothered to think critically too much).  But the rest of us (i.e. the majority, believe it or not, of the music-consuming public) are going to get real bored real soon if this is all the already dwindling music television industry has to offer us.

 

Yeah, I know, I went off on a huge feminist diatribe once again, but this crap really irks me as a fan of music who is also a feminist, and who doesn’t understand why most of the music-related media (i.e. music videos; Rolling Stone and its ilk) continue to cater to the dudebro culture instead of the general masses of music lovers, most of whom don’t fall into that category and don’t care if our music and music-related media comes with a shiny pair of tits or not.  And while I’ll continue to love Jack White, I find his latest video to be a particular disappointment, because I expected much, much more from a man who has been in some of the most innovative videos of our time, has always been an extremely vocal supporter of women in the music industry, and was THE FIRST MAN TO GET HIS OWN COVER OF GODDAMN VenusZine, for fuck’s sake!  So I find it kind of difficult to comprehend why such a man (a certain man, who for the poor you can b— damn it, why doesn’t anyone stop me?) would ever stoop to involve himself in a video chock full of meaningless T&A and other tired tropes and that’s custom-made for the lowest common denominator (i.e. unimaginative douchewanks).  It just doesn’t make sense.  I will say this much:  I think the song rocks (I’ll let the iffy lyrics slide.  This time); I love Jack’s Mickey Mouse gloves; and the chromatic idiosyncracies here are kind of interesting.  It’s a shame they had to be wasted on such a dumbass video.

 

*Screams Like a Teenage Girl at a Beatles Concert in the ’60s* June 11, 2010

OMG, did you hear?!  Jack flipping White and Conan mother-effing O’Brien played a show together at the Third Man Records headquarters last night!  Unfortunately, what with their being all the way over in Nashville, Tennessee, and my being stuck all the way over here in Middle of Nowhere, New Jersey, I was unable to witness this historical moment.  But, the show has apparently been recorded and pressed on vinyl (sweet sweeeeeeet vinyl), and while it hasn’t been made totally clear yet whether or not those records were intended only for the attendees of the concert or for the general public as well, the point is this:  there now exists a recording of Conan O’Brien and Jack White jamming together.  On vinyl.  And if this record ever gets released to those not lucky enough to have seen it live, you know I’m a-gettin’ it.  Because those guys are my heroes.  And now they’re together on vinyl (!!!!!!!!!!!).

You can read the details (as well as see some lovely photographs) of the gig here.

 

Video of the Week: “Treat Me Like Your Mother” by The Dead Weather July 18, 2009

Part of me – the part that’s always strongly abhorred senseless violence – really wants me to hate the video for The Dead Weather’s latest single, “Treat Me Like Your Mother”.  Directed by Jonathan Glazer, the video premiered about a week or two ago on Cinemax and, for obvious reasons, probably won’t be showing up on VH1 any time soon.  By all logical reasoning, there’s very little in this video that should appeal to me.  The plot’s simple:  two people trek across a barren landscape toting machine guns, and for reasons which are never explained, open fire at each other.  They put an innumerable amount of bullets through each other, and yet neither one of them dies.  But I guess one of the few things that does appeal to me about this video – that is, that the duelers happen to be Jack White and Alison Mosshart – is what makes the video just look so dang cool.  And that’s probably because Jack White and Alison Mosshart are the type of people who can do just about anything – short of exhibiting certain bodily functions – and make it look cool.  Another thing about the video that appeals to me is its surrealism.  I mean, these two people shoot each other about a gazillion times, yet neither one of them drops dead.  I didn’t even realize just how surreal – or messed up – this video was until I watched it for a second time, and noticed that, at the end, you can actually see through the bullet holes shot through White’s body.  This video can’t be all that it seems; it’s got to be a metaphor for something.  For what, I’m not totally sure.  Either that, or it’s just proof that Jack White is in fact, as I’ve long suspected, not a mortal being, but the walking undead.  I’d say the same about Alison Mosshart, only it was already confirmed that she was a vampire in The Kills’ video for “Black Balloon” (no relation to the Goo Goo Dolls song of the same name.  Oh, and by the way, here’s a little disclaimer:  I make up conspiracy theories in my spare time just to amuse myself, and they’re not to be taken seriously.  Except for the one I made up about Warren Zevon and Hunter S. Thompson being long-lost twins.  That one I actually believe.  Well, almost).   Anyway, as much as I want to hate this video for not only its depiction of graphic violence, but the lack of realistic consequences resulting from said violence, I can’t help being fascinated by it.  I just would think twice before showing this video to any impressionable young children.  Jeez, listen to me; I’m starting to sound like those “video games make people violent” people that annoy me so.

 

The Dead Weather: So Much More than Jack White’s Other Other Band July 17, 2009

HorehoundEver since March, when word got out that Jack White had formed a new band called The Dead Weather, I’d been anxiously awaiting the release of their debut album, Horehound.  Around that time I had started regarding Mr. White as the savior of high-quality rock and roll in this era of overall musical mediocrity, so naturally my expectations were high from the start.  Now that I’ve finally gotten Horehound and have listened to it, I am amazed to say that the album has exceeded those already astronomical expectations.  I have to admit, I was a bit apprehensive when I looked through the insert before putting on the CD (as I’ve mentioned before, the pre-listen glance through the insert is a new-CD ritual for me) and upon skimming the lyrics realized that pretty much all the songs (with the exception of “3 Birds”, which has no lyrics) have similar subject matter:  almost all the songs seem to be about someone in a mutually abusive, destructive, and/or sadomasochistic relationship.  I wondered if The Dead Weather’s music would be interesting enough to carry a common theme without sounding monotonous.  After listening to their album a couple of times, I can confidently say that they’ve succeeded.

There was a time when I referred to The Dead Weather as “Jack White’s new band.”  I have since seen the error of my ways, as this description doesn’t do the band justice.  Perhaps the biggest surprise I came across whilst listening to Horehound is that Jack White, much as I revere him and his seemingly boundless talent, is not the most impressive part of The Dead Weather.  Don’t get me wrong, his drumming is fantastic, and not just for a guy who’s mainly recognized as a guitarist.  It’s just that, on the few opportunities that White gets to provide lead vocals (with the exception of “Will There Be Enough Water?”), he comes off as…well…kind of annoying.  I’m not saying that his vocal itself is annoying; I’ve always been a fan of White’s voice and one album isn’t going to change that.  But “I Cut Like a Buffalo,” on which White provides lead vocals throughout, could have been a pretty good song if it didn’t feature the sound of simulated choking, which is at best unnecessary, and at worst downright disturbing.  Then there’s “Treat Me Like Your Mother” and “Rocking Horse,” on which lead vocals alternate between White and Mosshart.  In the former, the verses sung by Mosshart alone are great, and the part where she and White simultaneously spell “M-A-N-I-P-U-late” is pretty good, but the “Who’s got it figured out?” rap segments of the song, performed primarily by White, are less than extraordinary.  As for the latter, the only real problem I have with that one is the very fact that the lead vocals do alternate, and a bit too frequently (in the first couple of verses, the vocals are swapped every two or three lines).  I honestly think the song would sound much better if only one of the two members provided the lead vocals, or at least alternated every verse instead of every few lines.  But hey, that’s just me.

No, the member of the band who steals the show – quite possibly the only person who could ever upstage Jack White…well, short of Bob Dylan, Loretta Lynn, or Mick Jagger – is Alison Mosshart, hands down.  Her vocals – which sound like the love-child of Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison – suit the band’s dark and heavy blues-rock sound perfectly.  At times, the band even sounds like a modern, female-fronted equivalent of The Doors.  This is especially true for the songs “So Far from Your Weapon” and “No Hassle Night.”  In my humble opinion, the former is the best song on the album, with the slowly building music and threatening lyric (sample:  “There’s a bullet in my pocket burnin’ a hole. / You’re so far from your weapon and the place you were born.”) meshing perfectly with Mosshart’s low, seductive lead vocal, which is complemented perfectly in a call-and-response between her and all three of the other members.  Another high point on the album is the opening track, “60 Feet Tall,” in which Mosshart confidently wails to a lover who’s “cruel and shameless…cold and dangerous” that she’s up for the challenge:  “I can take the trouble, / I’m 60 feet tall!”  The album’s closing track, “Will There Be Enough Water?” also stands out.  It’s long and slow, not as heavy as the other songs on Horehound, and reminiscent of Bob Dylan (one could even say the lyric makes reference to an early Bob Dylan song, “When the Ship Comes In.”  And knowing what a huge influence Dylan has had on White, it’s probably a conscious reference).  The song features Jack White on the lead vocal, singing what Jack White, after all, sings best:  pure blues-rock.  After the song fades out, the sound of crickets can be heard for several seconds before the album finishes completely.  Quite a marvelous way to finish a great album.

Those of us who’ve waited as long for Horehound as I have were teased with a couple of singles and maybe a handful of live performances posted on YouTube while we waited.  Yet the two songs that were released as singles so far (“Hang You From the Heavens” and “Treat Me Like Your Mother”), though both fairly good, don’t even begin to demonstrate how great The Dead Weather really are.  If you haven’t gotten Horehound yet, and you’re into hard rock and/or blues, or are otherwise open-minded when it comes to music, I would highly recommend that you run – don’t walk – to your nearest music-selling establishment as soon as possible and get Horehound.

 

Fear and Loathing in Dead Weatherville -or- Looks Like Jack White’s Finally Lost His Marbles in the Best Possible Way -or- All Work and No Play Make Jack Forget About Corn July 15, 2009

While I’m still anxiously awaiting the copy of Horehound I pre-ordered a couple of months ago (the album was released in the US yesterday), I’ve gotten hooked on this short interview video of The Dead Weather.  And look what all work and no play have done to our dear Jack…soon he’ll be chopping through doors with an axe and maniacally yelling catch phrases from prime-time talk shows (my money’s on Conan.  They have a history, those two).  Yes, I think Jack has finally lost it…and I’m kind of loving it.  Either that, or he’s started smoking the ol’ ganja (nah…).  The eerie organ music (provided by The Dead Weather’s bespectacled bassist and resident Zen philosopher, Little Jack Lawrence), the yellow haze, and the impression the band and interviewer give off of being stoned (although more likely than not, they’re just drunk and/or in a goofy mood) all give this video the feel of a deleted scene from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  In this video, you get to witness Jack White saying an R-rated word (and I always had Alison pegged as the potty-mouth of the group), imitating a ferocious bear, getting a popular piano man confused with a character from a Bobbie Gentry song, and forgetting about corn.  You heard me.  Don’t ask questions, just watch and enjoy.

(Sigh)…maybe my Horehound will come tomorrow…

 

Jack White: The Discography (So Far) July 12, 2009

There are several reasons right now for me to post a (sorta) complete retrospective of Jack White’s albums (definition of “complete” depends on whether or not you count movie soundtracks he’s contributed to, guest appearances he may have made on other artists’ albums, or bands he was in prior to The White Stripes.  If you count any of those, this list is far from complete.  Sorry.  I kind of jumped on the Jack White bandwagon late and was not able to delve that deeply into his work.  So sue me).  One reason is that Jack White’s birthday was a couple of days ago (Thursday, to be exact).  Happy 34th, Jack.  Another reason is that his latest band, The Dead Weather, are coming out with their debut album, Horehound, later this month(and when I say “later this month,” I mean really really really soon.  Like in 2 or 3 days soon).  It’s about time, too.  I’ve been waiting for this thing since early March (actually, since around the same time this blog was started).  So in preparation for Horehound, and in honor of the birthday boy, I now present to you a detailed discography — in chronological order, mind you — of all the albums Jack’s released with The White Stripes and The Raconteurs.

 

The White Stripes

The White Stripes — The White Stripes (1999)

Way back in 1999, long before The White Stripes hit the mainstream, and shortly before lead singer/guitarist Jack White and drummer Meg White filed for the most amicable of divorces (though to this day they still claim to be siblings.  I’m sure they know they’re not fooling anyone anymore, but to be fair, maybe the whole reason why they got divorced was because their bond was too fraternal to last as a marriage.  So, for all intents and purposes, they have a brother-sister relationship), The White Stripes released their self-titled debut album.  Released when Mr. and Ms. White were still living in their hometown of Detroit, The White Stripes features a raw, savage sound best described as “punk blues” (it makes a lot more sense when you actually hear it), combining the structure and rhythm of blues music with the fast tempo and high volume of punk rock, while also embracing the minimalism that both genres share.  Minimalism is a key ingredient to The White Stripes’ credo, contributing to everything from the band’s primitive recording techniques to its very strict dress code (as The White Stripes, Jack and Meg are only ever seen wearing red, white, black, or any combination of those three colors), and though they’ve never abandoned their minimalist approach to music, on no album did they adhere to it more than on their very first album.

Recommended Tracks:  “Sugar Never Tasted So Good”; “Cannon”; “Broken Bricks”; “Screwdriver”; “I Fought Pirhanas”.

 

De Stijl

The White Stripes — De Stijl (2000)

The White Stripes’ sophomore album — named after an early-20th-century Dutch art movement (translation:  “the style”) that valued minimalism and geometric shapes — was released one year after the band’s debut album.  De Stijl saw the band dabbling in a more diverse range of genres, from the mid-1960s-pop-rock-sounding “You’re Pretty Good Looking (For a Girl)” to the bouncy piano tune “Apple Blossom”, to the country-tinged cover of bluesman Blind Willie McTell’s “Your Southern Can is Mine”.  Still, the punk blues sound that was so pervasive on The White Stripes still radiates heavily on De Stijl, most notably on songs like “Hello Operator”, “Let’s Build a Home”, and the band’s cover of Son House’s “Death Letter”.

Recommended Tracks:  “You’re Pretty Good Looking (For a Girl)”; “Hello Operator”; “Death Letter”; “Truth Doesn’t Make a Noise”; “A Boy’s Best Friend”; “Let’s Build a Home”.

 

White Blood Cells

The White Stripes — White Blood Cells (2001)

This is the album that launched the Stripes into the stratosphere of stardom, and all it took was one minute and 55 seconds of energetic retro-rock and the lego-filled video that went withit.  I’m talking about The White Stripes’ very first hit single — “Fell in Love With a Girl”.  A mere four years after Jack and Meg formed their candy-colored musical duo, they’d made the big time.  Soon to follow would be MTV apperances, speculations revolving around the nature of the pair’s relationship (one minute the public buys the idea that they’re brother and sister — I mean, heck, they look like they could be siblings! — and the next minute their divorce papers are circulating around the internet…someone has some ‘splaining to do), and the inclusion of “We’re Going to Be Friends” (in my humble opinion, the greatest song ever released by The White Stripes, and quite possibly the greatest song Jack White has ever written.  So far, that is) in the opening credits of the love-it-or-hate-it (I happened to love it.  Though I didn’t love those of my peers who quoted it ad nauseam.  Way to ruin a good film, guys) teen cult film Napoleon Dynamite.  The band’s sound was remarkably different on White Blood Cells than on their previous two albums, relying less on the punk blues sound and more heavily on straight-up garage rock.  However, in spite of the slight change in style, White Blood Cells is no less ecclectic a collection than De Stijl, gathering influence from country (“Hotel Yorba”), 1970s hard rock (“Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground”), 1970s soft rock (“The Same Boy You’ve Always Known”), folk (“We’re Going to be Friends”), scat (“Little Room”), mid-1960s proto-punk (“Fell in Love With a Girl”) and Citizen Kane (“The Union Forever”).

Recommended Tracks:  “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground”; “Fell in Love With a Girl”; “The Union Forever”; “The Same Boy You’ve Always Known”; “We’re Going to Be Friends”; “I Can’t Wait”; “I Can Learn”.

 

Elephant

The White Stripes — Elephant (2003)

If White Blood Cells was the springboard from which The White Stripes leapt into stardom, Elephant was the huge splash they made when they landed in it.  Elephant features the riff-driven “Seven Nation Army”, which remains the Stripes’ biggest hit to this day.  And that’s just the beginning of the impact Elephant made on the band’s career.  Elephant won the Stripes their first two Grammy awards in 2004 (Best Alternative Album; Best Rock Song for “Seven Nation Army”).  Also on Elephant is “The Hardest Button to Button”, the video for which was parodied a couple years later on an episode The Simpsons in which The White Stripes themselves made a brief cameo.  Once Elephant was let loose, the Stripes were practically unstoppable.  Pretty soon they had a week-long gig on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and Jack White started doing crazy celebrity things like appearing as a minor character in a war epic, dating an actress or two, getting into a tussle with a former protegee, making occasional onstage appearances at Bob Dylan concerts, and collecting taxidermy (oh, wait — he was already doing that).  But anyway, back to what’s really important about Elephant:  the music.  The White Stripes’ fourthalbum saw them returning to their blues-rock roots with songs like “Black Math”, “In the Cold, Cold Night” (featuring Meg White’s first ever lead vocal), and the unbearably sexy “Ball and Biscuit”.  Yet the Stripes also continued to experiment with a variety of different styles.  “Seven Nation Army”, though undoubtedly a rock song, has a beat that can be easily danced to (Mom, if you’re reading this, please spare me the Dick Clark reference), while “There’s No Home for You Here” features multi-tracked vocal harmonies that sound like a weird hybrid of The Beatles and Queen.

Recommended Tracks:  “Seven Nation Army”; “Black Math”; “I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself”; “In the Cold, Cold Night”; “You’ve Got Her in Your Pocket”; “Ball and Biscuit”; “The Hardest Button to Button”.

 

Get Behind Me Satan

The White Stripes — Get Behind Me Satan (2005)

Sometime around 2005, Jack White evidently felt the need to unleash his inner Leon Russell.  Thus, he grew some facial hair, developed a strong attachment to wide-brimmed hats, and released the piano-heavy Get Behind Me Satan.  In spite of the album’s title and cover art, Jack White’s quasi-gothic appearance at the time, and the dark quality of the album’s first single, “Blue Orchid”, as well as the eerie video that went with it, Get Behind Me Satan contains some of the lightest, most pop-oriented material The White Stripes have yet produced.  Though, in my opinion, Get Behind Me Satan is altogether a relatively weak album (especially when it had the misfortune of following Elephant), it does contain some of Jack White’s most beautiful, introspective songs, with “Ugly as I Seem” and “I’m Lonely (But I Ain’t That Lonely Yet)”.

Recommended Tracks:  “My Doorbell”; “Forever for Her (Is Over for Me)”; “Little Ghost”; “The Denial Twist”; “As Ugly as I Seem”; “I’m Lonely (But I Ain’t That Lonely Yet”.

 

Broken Boy Soldiers

The Raconteurs — Broken Boy Soldiers (2006)

In 2006, the music world was introduced to Jack White’s new band, The Raconteurs.  Joining forces with solo artist Brendan Benson and The Greenhornes’ Little Jack “LJ” Lawrence and Patrick Keeler, Jack and his new bandmates preferred not to call their supergroupa “side project”, but instead a “new band made up of old friends.”  Their retro-style brand of modern hard rock proved that The Raconteurs had potential for staying power and appealing to a wide audience.  Having three additional band members rather than just one also helped take some of the pressure off of Jack’s performance, as he got to share vocal and guitar duty with Benson.  The Raconteurs also gave Jack some room to play withsounds completely separate from The White Stripes’ material.  It is quite easy to distinguish a Raconteurs song from a White Stripes song, and there are many Raconteurs fans who prefer them to The White Stripes.  That fact alone is enough evidence to suggest that The Raconteurs were more than just a side project.  As for me, I enjoy bothbands about equally (though I lean a little more towards The White Stripes, if only because they have more material out).  Listen to both if you want to decide for yourself.

Recommended Tracks:  “Hands”; “Broken Boy Soldier”; “Together”; “Yellow Sun”; “Blue Veins”.

 

Icky Thump

The White Stripes — Icky Thump (2007)

To the relief of all the White Stripes fans who thought Jack had abandoned his soul sister so he could continue playing with the boys, Jack and Meg returned again with Icky Thump.  And for all we know, Mr. White may have needed that year off with another band to refuel his peppermint-flavored creative juices for The White Stripes.  Because Icky Thump is a darn fine album, and showcases a diversity of musical styles that spans further than the Stripes had ever dared to reach before.  Jack celebrates his Scottish heritage with the bagpipe-driven “Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn” and “St. Andrew”.  And though The White Stripes have performed many covers before on previous albums, few — if any — are as unusual as their latin-flavored cover of Patti Page’s 1952 hit “Conquest”.  Yet, with the Stripes’ ever-increasing exploration of different styles on Icky Thump, there’s still plenty of room for the classic garage rock/punk blues sound that The White Stripes started out with, which can be heard on such songs as “Bone Broke”, “Little Cream Soda”, “Rag and Bone”, and “Catch Hell Blues”.

Recommended Tracks:  “You Don’t Know What Love Is (You Just Do as You’re Told)”; “300 M.P.H. Outpour Blues”; “Little Cream Soda”; “Rag and Bone”; “A Martyr for My Love for You”; “Catch Hell Blues”.

 

Consolers of the Lonely

The Raconteurs — Consolers of the Lonely (2008)

In 2008, The Raconteurs set out to prove that they weren’t just a one-album wonder.  And what a way to prove it.  This is the very album that made me a Jack White fan, and so will always hold a special place in my heart.  I was convinced that good rock and roll had gone down the tubes (and I don’t mean the London subway system — though I do remember seeing huge ads for Consolers on subway walls when I was in London last summer) until that fateful day in late January when I went out on a limb and decided to check these guys out (well, that and I needed a recent album to review for my reviewing and publishing class.  The same class responsible for me starting this blog, now that I think about it).  But enough about me.  This album is a prime example of how modern rock can still…well, rock.  The trick is to pay homage to older music, without adhering too firmly to any one genre.  Take, for example, “These Stones Will Shout”, which begins with a Cat Stevens/Donovan type of gentle folk, and gradually builds up to a powerful Zeppelinesque hard rock sound.  And that just barely scratches the surface of how awesome and diverse this album is.  Within the fourteen songs featured on Consolers, one can hear the essence of such genres as folk, blues, country, punk, bluegrass, 1970s metal, southern rock, hard rock, soft rock, and spaghetti-western-soundtrack-type-music (see “The Switch and the Spur”).  So please excuse my gushing; after all, this was the first album — the first anything, really — that I ever wrote a review for.  And before I go about paraphrasing the entire review I wrote for class, let me just finish by saying this:  Consolers of the Lonely was robbed of a Grammy.  Coldplay can stick their Rock Album of the Year award…uh…somewhere where it will be very painful to stick a small metallic gramophone.  Like…up their nose or something.  And that’s the end of my uncharacteristically biased rant.  My apologies to Coldplay and anyone who may be a huge Coldplay fan.

Recommended Tracks:  “Salute Your Solution”; “Old Enough”; ‘The Switch and the Spur”; “Hold Up”; “Top Yourself”; “These Stones Will Shout”; “Carolina Drama”.