Sit back, folks. This is a bit of a longer post…
So I was ambling through our local Wally World the other day and, out of habit, checked out the New Releases in the CD section. And there sat this brand new Jack White album. I had no idea it was being released! I texted James in my excitement about it, and he already knew. Still, I got the joy of discovery!
Connected By Love is the single, and it’s a solid burner of a love song that builds and has a killer organ solo. All good love stories have a great organ solo (har har). Anyway, when the track started it wasn’t what I expected and so I was sure it would need to be a grower, but as the song went on I fell in love with it. Connected by love, you could say… Why Walk A Dog? is the second track in a row that uses electronics as a base, almost like Casio keyboard but bigger, which always tells me he was working alone on this one. My instincts were right! “He had set up shop in a small apartment in Nashville, Tennessee, where he recorded on a reel-to-reel tape recorder which he purchased when he was fourteen. His goal was “to try to write songs where I can’t be heard by the next-door neighbor. And I want to write like Michael Jackson would write — instead of writing parts on the instruments or humming melodies, you think of them. To do everything in my head and to do it in silence and use only one room.” Cool beans. The buzzsaw guitar section in this one is absolutely filthy, I loved it.
Corporation brings the funk and asks “who’s with me?” in a Beastie Boys shout while the guitar and bass roil their funky asses off and bongos pop in the background and he muses about starting a corporation… This is hot! Abulia And Akrasia kicks off with lovely violin and piano as he says “These are my demands…” The vocabulary used and olde-timey feel is brilliant. And briefly, there’s a trumpet! Trumpets FTW! Hypermisophoniac brings back the electronic blippery and his vocals are heavily filtered and altered. The eventual riff is solid, simple like Jack White does best, and by the time the backup singers are saying “there ain’t no running when you’re robbing a bank,” I was hooked. The guitar and piano solo bits are great, too. What an oddity that still holds interest!
Ice Station Zebra brings a (simultaneously) jazzy and driving bit over a throbbing beat. Add in the vocal tone and this is Jack bringing the Beasties feel big-time. There’s a groovy breakdown section too. This is a definite album highlight. Over And Over And Over bashes you with that big White guitar sound and a loud “whooo!” and away we go to the races, hells yes! This is closer to the Jack White we’re used to, though it does still have some electronic squeals, but it’s a beast of a track. Everything You’ve Ever Learned rolls in with a failing recorded greeting and electronic bleeps, but then the drums and bongos set a blistering pace while Jack proselytizes over the top. When it’s in full lift-off it’s a super-fun riff, while Jack yells at us to shut up and learn! Haha fun.
Respect Commander was the b-side for Connected By Love, and it’s a crazy-fast opening in a drum-and-bass kinda way, but somewhere before the mid-point it drops to about quarter-speed and Jack lays down bluesy guitar as he wails the lyrics… but then it’s taking off again, faster and raunchier than ever for the guitar solo. Wow! Ezmerelda Steals The Show has arpeggiated guitar while Jack repeats the lyrics, different tone in each ear like he’s reading aloud with himself. It pays to have the good headphones on, folks! Get In The Mind Shaft floats on synths as he (once again) talks us into the track. It’s a fat electronic beat and riff, complete with electronic voices
What’s Done Is Done is a beautiful old-style soul belter with a bit of a country twang. The duet vocals by Esther Rose are superlative, and the lyrics are pure greatness. This was definitely another album highlight! And finally, Humoresque brings things in close, just him and a piano, lightly tapping drums, and a plucked guitar, while the melody is almost child-like, simple and beautiful and (again) old-timey in feel. It builds into a jazzy crescendo as it ends, the band growing and washing over you until it fades to glory.
This is a strong artistic statement, and without hyperbole, it’s one of the best records of this year (I’m calling it already!). It is joyous music-making, full creative release, and Jack White proving he is The Man. It’s weird, it’s different, it’s largely unlike other things he’s done, but as you listen you know he’s nailing it, track after track. This is a fearless record, full-on expression. Superb.
Bonus Bit: “A limited edition vinyl version was made available to customers of the Third Man Records Vault service. The package features a different cover art, light-up vinyl record, 7″ colored vinyl single of demos for the tracks “Connected by Love” and “Why Walk a Dog?”, and photographs taken during the recording sessions of the album.”
The alternate cover art is pictured at left.
First off, a huge thank you to my lovely wife and our brilliant kids for this Father’s Day gift.
Folks, Jack White is a master. Yesterday, I posted about Blunderbuss. I really, really liked that record. Today, it’s Lazaretto and I am blown away.
Three Women’s funky jazzy intro becomes a slinky rocker about, of course, his three women – “red, blonde and brunette.” Ha. I love the piano part and the slide guitar. Every element of this song works, even the crash ending. It’s epic, this has to be a single.
Lazaretto is the single. I love this song. Love. Everything about it. It’s funky, heavy, playful, busy and bluesy. Yes.
Temporary Ground’s violin intro leads to a laid-back southern country-feel tune with lap steel. Superb duet vocals from Lillie Mae Rische make it perfect.
Would You Fight For My Love? is a piano/drum wonder. So simple, yet stil sweet. When the guitar and band kicks in, it’s a grooving mid-tempo rocker. This man has the knack.
High Ball Stepper had been a teaser track prior to release. It’s a bluesy instrumental with odd accents, like those piano runs. Explosive guitar around 2:00. So cool.
Just One Drink’s honky-tonk rock shuffle is pure bliss. Very Stones-ish, honestly. All it needs is Keef’s guitar jabs. Duet vocals from Ruby Amanfu make the track.
Alone in My Home comes from left field a bit, a piano-driven pop rocker. It’s solid, and has more vocal help from Rische. Without the usual wild guitar from White, it sounds aimed at radio, playing it straight.
Entitlement is a pretty, acoustic country-feel number with mandolin, piano and more lap steel. It even approaches gospel hymn in the vocals. A collision of styles as White chases his influences across the record. Sweet.
You know, if these last two tracks had been tacked onto the end of the record, it’d be a perfect ending. But he’s not done with us yet. Let’s see how he does with the last three tracks…
That Black Bat Licorice is a another epic White stagger rocker that feels like it’s barely keeping itself from going nuts, right down to the violin solo that ends it all. I love it. But sorry, I disagree, Jack. I like black licorice best. More for me, then.
I Think I Found The Culprit has acoustic instruments laid over a shuffling drum beat. It’s country, bluegrass, rock and even a bit of hip hop feel? Piano is a standout, here. I liked it!
And finally, Want And Able starts out with crows cawing, which leads into a beautiful harmony-sung piano track. He makes it sound like a church hymn, even though the lyrics really aren’t that. Yup, never mind what I said earlier. This, too, is a fitting ending. The last three tracks are like an encore.
Holy hell. I thought Blunderbuss was fantastic. Lazaretto is a true companion piece, and even goes several steps better. A masterpiece.
I am reviewing this in preparation for my (upcoming) review of Lazaretto.
You know, after the White Stripes split up, I wondered where Jack White could go. He did a thing, and that thing was successful. So now what?
Oh, just an ass-kicking record…
Missing Pieces should have been a single. It’s a super-cool earworm of a song like only White can write it, totally hummable. It had great guitar and organ solos. A sweet album opener.
Sixteen Saltines was a single, you’ll know it. It rocks. And it’s totally fun, too.
Freedom At 21 was also a single, and was the track that was a record store day event, wherein he tied vinyls of it to helium balloons and released them free to whomever might find them. Nobody can say White isn’t creative and interesting. The song itself is a funky blues rocker with yet another killer hook line, a crazy guitar solo and some great vocal vibratos.
Love Interruption was a single, and is a wonderful acoustic track. Tons of great lyrical brilliance here.
Blunderbuss’ beautiful waltz, married to White’s knack for melody lines, makes this a perfect track.
Hypocritical Kiss’ slightly out of tune piano (think disused church basement piano) intro gives way to a true shuffler beat and more genius White lyrics.
Weep Themselves To Sleep’s epic rock song structure is paired perfectly with a gorgeous piano part. There’s even another crazy guitar solo. Yes.
I’m Shaking was a single, and is a cover of Little Willie John. It’s a classic old school rock ’n roll romp. He even name-drops Bo Diddley, which tells you the stylings you’re in for, here.
Trash Tongue Talker comes at you in two speeds. First, it’s a gentle walking-speed blues swinger. But then, at the chorus, it double-times it into a drum and piano freak-out. So great.
Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy is a funky shuffler. Quite a happy tune, with a great bounce to it. This type of song comes from a long tradition, and it’s well-played. I loved it. [One wonders if he got the idea (or even a notion) for this song’s title from the Tragically Hip’s 2005 boxed set, Hipeponymous.]
I Guess I Should Go To Sleep carries on the old-style with great vocal harmonies from Ryan Koenig, and it’s a damn fine and catchy revival-type song.
On And On And On busts out a cello intro, then the organ walks in, the drums (a machine?) and the piano are next… the melody line is frustratingly familiar to me. Where have I heard that before? Anyway, it’s more of a sketch and a place to try out a few instrument combinations.
And finally, Take Me With You When You Go riffs neatly on an old jazz song I can’t quite place… gentle instruments all around, with a real bounce to them. The piano seques into a solid rawk part, and it’s here we stay til the track crashes to a close.
[The Japanese release also got Machine Gun Silhouette (interesting, near enough the Damned’s Machne Gun Etiquette, perhaps?), and a cover of U2’s Love Is Blindness.] I dunno, I like the album as it is in the regular release. It works, from top to bottom.
In Sum: This was a superb record. He couldn’t have made it under the Whtie Stripes banner, so it’s nice to hear White stretch his musical legs and tell us more about himself outside of that one format. His tendency to drift back to older styles and the roots of all things is evident all over this record and it serves him very, very well.
Two thumbs way, way up.
Another long while between blasts. It’s about bloody time I got at least something up here…
Carolyn Mark & NQ Arbuckle – Let’s Just Stay Here
I’ve loved this disc from the get-go. And I was writing initial reviews of it in my head right after I got it. Obviously, I never got around to the actual writing part. But now I realize that this negligence has actually been a blessing in disguise. Sure, I’d have raved about this record at the time. It’s a solid, engaging and excellent effort that definitely has its own feel, creates its own space to breathe and be all the awesome that it is and then goes for it full-on. But the added advantage I have in waiting until now to post this is in getting to tell you just how much of a good friend this record has become with repeated listens. Damn, man. This rules. The trademark humour, the harmonies, the excellent music from the band. It sounds equally great in my iPod, my stereo, and in my rumbly old truck. Yeah baby, this is the real deal.
Arrogant Worms – Three Worms And An Orchestra
A fun DVD, exactly as you’d expect: the group’s goofy songs with full arrangements from the Edmonton SO. They underhand-pitch most of their schtick between songs, and fair enough. Good family fun. The song ‘Celine Dion’ still makes me howl.
It Might Get Loud
A mostly cool meeting of three generations of guitar biggies; Jack White, The Edge and Jimmy Page. They play, talk, reminisce…
It was nice to see the elder-statesman Page still so enthralled with the music, and he seemed a good sport about this gig. He gets paid the least attention, though, which is odd given his legacy.
It’s hard to take somebody who calls himself The Edge seriously, especially since he’s been playing essentially the same damn riff for twenty years. All his effects and knob-twiddlings fail to interest me.
White came out best in this, to my mind. The brash impatience and energy, the studied acknowledgement of the dark corners of the blues, the wavering between respect and arrogance. We laughed when he said, on the way to this historic meeting, that he expected a fistfight. Haha. Yeah, if the future remains in his hands we’ll be alright.
Recommended viewing, even if they do totally butcher ‘The Weight’ during the end credits.
Sloan – Hit & Run EP
Sloan has a new EP and a B-Sides collection available for cheap on their web site. You should go buy them right now. http://www.sloanmusic.com/
This EP is a thoughtful collection of new material in that inimitable Sloan style. Strong writing, gorgeous song construction and instrumentations, incredibly catchy hooks, and the sense that while these songs are great on the EP, they’ll be even better live. Yeah baby! SLOOOOAANN!!!
I’ll get to writing about the b-sides collection after I give it another full spin.