I won’t need a microphone – Icky Thump (2007)

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Icky Thump, the final studio album by the White Stripes, gives us a glimpse of the band’s trajectory if they hadn’t broken up four years later.  It’s the band’s most complex album, with the most advanced songwriting and the biggest moments. While it is clearly in the same vein as the early bashed-out blues songs as their debut, here it all feels much more thought-out and intentional. Icky Thump was the result of several albums of growth and maturity, including three straight barn-burning albums that pushed the two-piece band to places people never thought possible. That also goes for the band themselves, who were now rock giants in a landscape where such things were becoming rare. In that context, Icky Thump feels like a logical progression, and it’s fascinating to hear it forge new territory all while feeling like a definite product of The White Stripes. Continue reading

You got a reaction, didn’t you? – Get Behind Me Satan (2005)

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After rising to genuine rock star status after Elephant, the White Stripes used their follow-up as an opportunity to take a hard left turn. Get Behind Me Satan is a weird album that opens with several songs that don’t sound anything like earlier White Stripes albums. Over a decade removed from its original release, it still stands as the strangest album the band would ever record.  Continue reading

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

Jack White – Blunderbuss Review

I’ve had Jack White’s first solo effort for about a year now, and I feel like I’ve only recently gotten a handle on my own feelings about it. Those who listen to music in the same room as me know how big a fan I am of White’s other projects. The White Stripes are pretty much my favorite band, and the second album by the Raconteurs spent about two solid years in my car CD player. Safe to say that when Blunderbuss dropped last year, my anticipation was through the roof. But what I didn’t expect was that I wouldn’t totally love it immediately. Continue reading