Find me a soapbox where I can shout it – Elephant (2003)

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If The White Stripes are remembered for one song, that song will almost certainly be “Seven Nation Army.” The opening track to their fourth album Elephant is one of the great guitar hooks in rock history, ranking beside “Satisfaction,” “Smoke On The Water,” and “Whole Lotta Love.” It’s also one of those rare rock songs that has become a stadium anthem around the world. Apart from its impact, it is easily one of the best songs The White Stripes recorded, a tightly coiled ball of menace with the heartbeat of Meg’s drumming pushing it forward relentlessly. And for the first time on a White Stripes album, we get a blistering guitar solo from Jack. But the biggest miracle is that, as terrific as “Seven Nation Army” is, it probably isn’t even the best song on Elephant. The fourth album by The White Stripes is a rock miracle, a back-to-front masterpiece that has at least five classic Stripes tracks, and a pack of album tracks that all feel part of the whole. Continue reading

Shiny Tops and Soda Pops – White Blood Cells (2001)

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The heavy blues influence on the first two White Stripes albums is well-executed and thrilling, but it does give those albums a sense that they are riffs on a common idea. Jack White is far from the first white boy to discover the blues, and lo-fi aesthetic notwithstanding, the broad sound of those early albums comes off a bit like grimy Zeppelin. It’s really well done, but it’s not quite a unique voice yet. Continue reading

Back In School Again – De Stijl (2000)

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Listening to De Stijl after the White Stripes’ debut is like watching a pitcher with a great arm suddenly figure out how to be way more accurate. Everything about De Stijl is far more precise and focused. Rather than a powerful roar of distortion, Jack White’s guitar work is much more detailed and nuanced. This is a giant leap forward for The White Stripes, and a strong blueprint for their future albums. Continue reading

Oil Companies’ Faces Are Grinning – The White Stripes (1999)

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John Anthony Gillis was involved in a couple of musical projects before 1997. He had an upholstery business that would share a name with his future record company, and he was a musician for a lot of local Detroit bands, most notably on drums for Goober & The Peas. After meeting and marrying Meg White, he took her name and became known as Jack White. It was in 1997 that the two of them formed The White Stripes, and they released their self-titled debut in 1999.  Continue reading

The Same Boy You’ve Always Known

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For a good chunk of 2014, I was part of a podcast called The Takedown Notice. We talked about some of our favorite music, bouncing between individual songs and favorite albums. We only released about ten episodes before going on extended hiatus, but we continued to record and create a backlog of episodes. Throughout the unreleased episodes, a running theme developed where I ended up bringing most subjects back around to Jack White. That doesn’t even include an extended episode on one of my favorite albums, Elephant by The White Stripes. Continue reading

To The Ends Of The Earth – Commissioned in Review

Perfect for Holy WeekFor many people the words “Christian board game” will be enough to drive them off. Honestly I can’t say I blame them, given some of the questionable quality of Christian media that is out there. But here we have Commissioned, the first published game from Patrick and Kathering Lysaght, and there is much to recommend it. It handles its narrative earnestly, but with a smart sense of what will and won’t work in a board game design. And besides that it’s just a solid game experience. Continue reading