Jack White; a diva no more

“Jesus Christ, is this an NPR convention?” asked White before cutting his set short last Saturday in New York City, three days before he appeared at Montreal’s L’Olympia. Despite technical problems and the negative press detailing White’s ‘diva-tude’ behaviour, he didn’t fail to impress the Montreal crowd.

Eager to see whether White would enter the stage with Los Buzzardos, the all-male band, or The Peacocks, his all-female band, the lights dimmed and the crowd erupted in cheers. White and Los Buzzardos began playing The White Stripes’ song “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground.”

The sound immediately electrified fans, but as soon as White walked up to the mic, it became obvious that something was off. The music level was much higher than the vocals, making it virtually impossible to hear White sing.

Press photo.

Throughout the ninety-minute show, White played songs from his entire repertoire. He performed tracks that he wrote with The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather, a few songs from his solo debut Blunderbuss, and a song he wrote with Hank Williams, “You Know That I Know.”

But his White Stripe hits proved to be the most memorable. The closing song “Seven Nation Army” was both electric and delicate, causing the most powerful reaction from fans.

It’s no surprise that the crowd was so enthusiastic about White, for he lived up to his reputation and shied away from gimmicks to produce an honest-to-God rock show. This concert was, without a doubt, a riveting musical experience.




Top five Jack White tracks


1. “Seven Nation Army” – White Stripes – Elephant

It is near impossible to have lived through the 2000s and not recognize the signature “Seven Nation Army” guitar riff. It sounds like a bass, but was the sound was actually created by running White’s semi-acoustic guitar through a DigiTech Whammy pedal set down an octave.

It was adopted as the unofficial anthem of A.S. Roma, an Italian football club based in Rome, during the 2006 World Cup. Nowadays crowds chant the lyrics to “Seven Nation Army” instead of the traditional Olé, Olé, Olé. “I’m gonna fight ’em off/A seven nation army couldn’t hold me back/They’re gonna rip it off/Taking their time right behind my back.”


2. “Portland, Oregon” – Loretta Lynn & Jack White – Van Lear Rose

After being M.I.A. for about ten years, country pioneer Loretta Lynn returned to the studio with White to release 2004’s Van Lear Rose. White lent vocals, guitar and produced the record — which later won the Grammy Award for Best Country Album.  “Portland, Oregon” is the album’s only duet and serves as their ode to the city that bewitched them as touring musicians. Its music video juxtaposes footage of America’s ‘weirdest’ city with White and Lynn performing in a dive bar, and lets you to peer into the relationship the two developed working closely together. “Well I lost my heart it didn’t take no time/But that ain’t all/ I lost my mind in Oregon.”


3. “Icky Thump” – The White Stripes – Icky Thump

“Icky Thump” is the title track of The White Stripes’ sixth and final album. Though it was released in 2007, the pair didn’t announce their separation until 2011. After 13 years together, they called it quits for a “myriad of reasons, but mostly to preserve what is beautiful and special about the band.” The album returned to the heavy, snarky rock found in their earlier releases. The title track, “Icky Thump”, features one of White’s only political references. It deals with immigration to the United States, with both the song’s lyrics and music video detailing how easy it is for someone to cross the border into Mexico, yet near impossible to get back into the US. “White Americans/What? Nothin’ better to do?/Why don’t you kick yourself out/You’re an immigrant too.”


4. “Blunderbuss” – Jack White – Blunderbuss

Though White had been bouncing from one project to the next for a decade, he didn’t release solo material until 2012. And that’s because Blunderbuss was a record that he couldn’t release until now. He told Rolling Stone, “I’ve put off making records under my own name for a long time but these songs feel like they could only be presented under my name. These songs were written from scratch, had nothing to do with anyone or anything else but my own expression, my own colors on my own canvas.” The title track is a country-rock piano ballad, and appears to address his former bandmate and ex-wife, Meg White. “And you’ll be watching me, girl/Taking over the world/Let the stripes unfurl/Gettin’ rich singin’ poor boy/Poor boy.”


5. “Steady As She Goes” – The Raconteurs – Broken Boy Soldiers

The Raconteurs formed after White bonded with an old friend, Brendan Benson, in an attic on a hot summer’s day. Cooped up, the pair wrote “Steady As She Goes” and were inspired to make things official. With the addition of Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler of The Greenhornes, The Raconteurs called themselves “a new band made up of old friends.” This track is White’s most mainstream effort and the closest he has ever gotten to pop. The song has been covered by Adele, Corinne Bailey Rae, Fitz and The Tantrums and was nominated for the Best Rock Performance Grammy in 2007. “Settle for a girl neither up or down/sell it to the crowd that’s gathered round/so steady as she goes.”



Blunderbuss fires and hits the target

Rating: 9.7/10

Jack White has been a very busy musician.

From The White Stripes, to The Raconteurs, and with The Dead Weather, Nashville-based artist Jack White has continually churned out new music, even a James Bond theme song, “Another Way to Die,” from Quantum of Solace.

Now, the garage/blues rock legend has gone solo, with his debut album, Blunderbuss, released on April 24, by Third Man Records. The record comes after the split of The White Stripes and White’s divorce from British model Karen Elson.

The album features much of the loved raw, stripped down sound that has been associated with White. Cranked up guitar amps, recorded through analog equipment are presented heavily in album’s soundscape, such as White’s second single, “Sixteen Saltines.” However, quieter tracks, with more R&B influence, such as “Love Interruption,” completely steal the show, showcasing White’s musicianship and skill as a songwriter and performer.

The heavily blues-based album, which is even reflected in album’s artwork, is a real treat for any music lover.

Trial track: “Love Interruption”


Music in the News

For the very, very patient vinyl enthusiasts

In celebration of his Third Man Records’ third anniversary, Jack White hosted a big soirée with an unusual party favour for the guests. Following in the label’s tradition of unusual vinyl creations, each person present was given a special 3 RPM record containing all 56 singles from the 28 bands that have taken part in the label’s Blue Series. The label has called the record “easy to play but impossible to hear […] we estimate it would take 333 days of 33 hours training per day for your finger, hand and arm muscles to spin at a continuous speed of 3 rpm for X hours and X minutes.”

More like Ultra Music Feudstival

Madonna irked a number of prominent electronic dance music icons at the Ultra Music Festival last week when she asked “How many people in this crowd have seen Molly?” a slang term for the drug MDMA, which is similar to the name of the pop star’s latest album MDNA. Paul Van Dyk called the reference “the biggest mistake in her career” and prompted Deadmau5 to tweet “You’re a role model to 100’s of millions. You have a powerful voice, EDM [electronic dance music] could use your positive influence, not ‘molly’ talk.” Madonna claims she was unaware of the implications of her comment, and tweeted in reply “I don’t support drug use and I never have. I was referring to the song ‘Have You Seen Molly’ written by my friend Cedric Gervais who I almost worked with on my last album…” Deaudmau5 applauded her for clearing up the situation “personally,” but advised Madonna to “be a little more aware of what you should represent at EDM events.

Crashed and burned

Australian rockers Jet have officially called it quits, according to a post on the band’s official website. “After many successful years of writing, recording and touring we wish to announce our discontinuation as a group,” wrote the group. “From the many pubs, theatres, stadiums and festivals all across the world it was the fans that made our amazing story possible and we wish to thank them all.” Jet first came to prominence in 2003 with the release of their first album Get Born. It quickly went platinum in the U.S., U.K. and Australia and netted them their most recognizable song, “Are You Gonna Be My Girl.” The band’s last album was Shaka Rock in 2009.

‘Ke$ha bled all over my record!’

The Flaming Lips have decided there’s just not enough bodily fluids in records these days and they’ve decided to do something about it with their new collaborative effort The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends. “What I’m going to try to do — and I’m collecting stuff for it as we speak — is I’m going to try to make a record that has every person’s blood in the record,” said frontman Wayne Coyne in an interview with MTV. “I don’t have everybody’s blood just yet, but I collected quite a few vials of blood and it’s actually sitting in my refrigerator as we speak.” The record itself will be a picture disk and be on a very limited run of five or six at the most. Though he wouldn’t divulge exactly whose blood he’d already taken, Coyne mentioned his favourite collaborators so far have been Bon Iver and Ke$ha, but with a long list of “fwends” helping out on the record, it’s anyone’s guess who will be bleeding for the band.


Music in the News

Because Deamau5+1 sounds stupid

In a post on his Tumblr account, dance music artist Deadmau5 revealed he’s not too keen on collaborations with other artists, and that he has refused many requests from big artists in the past. “All too often, there’s an influx of ‘big names’ that would get thrown around the label from time to time and of course, they fly off the table and out the fuckin’ door faster than they hit my desk,” wrote Deadmau5. “Do you want to do a track with big name X, remix huge pop act Y, etc. etc. No. I fucking don’t. I really REALLY don’t.”
He says his biggest problem with these artists is that, more often than not, the lyrics are too vapid for his taste and that he has no interest in songs that “have some fucking dipshit blab about lookin’ sexy, poppin’ bottles, ‘dropping bass,’ or ANYTHING club related.” The electronic music star did mention that his previous collaborations with bands like Cypress Hill and the Foo Fighters were “the results of stuff [I’m] totally into” and were not the target of his rant.

Black Keys sorry for shooting fish in a barrel

Those of you with long memories may recall the tiff between The Black Keys and Nickelback that occurred a while back. For those who don’t, the Keys’ Patrick Carney trashed Nickelback saying that rock music was dying because “people became OK with Nickelback being the biggest band in the world, so they became OK with the idea that the biggest rock band in the world is always going to be shit.” Now he’s recanted his previous statement, sort of: “I didn’t mean to single them out,” the drummer said in an interview with MTV News Canada. “It just came out. There are much worse bands than Nickelback, maybe.”

Don’t send in the clowns

This year’s inductees to the rock and roll hall of fame include Guns N’ Roses, the Beastie Boys and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It does not, however, include KISS, and they’re not happy about the snub. “It’s become a joke,” said bassist Gene Simmons of the Hall of Fame. “We’ve been thinking about it and the answer is simply ‘We’ll just buy it and fire everybody’.” Simmons said the fact that Madonna and Blondie were inductees showed how far off the mark of ‘Rock and Roll’ the institution had gone. “They’re legitimate dance, disco artists. They don’t belong in rock and roll.” Simmons’ bandmate, Paul Stanley, added that “The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has reached a point where they’re really scrounging and scratching to find someone left that they consider viable. With all due respect, when you get to Patti Smith you’re about two steps away from Pete Seeger.” KISS have been eligible for induction since 1999.

What will Meg do now?

Jack White has come out and said there is “absolutely no chance” that he will ever bring back The White Stripes. “I’m not the kind of person that would retire from baseball and come out of retirement the next year,” said White in an interview with NME magazine. “I mean, if we went to all the trouble of telling people we’re done, we meant it, you know?” He says the only reason he could possibly foresee a reunion would be if he “went bankrupt or really needed the cash, which would be a really sad thing.”

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