On the Goe: Jack White rocks
A blunderbuss is a savage weapon. Muzzle loaded with a shot, nails, glass or really any malicious looking piece of scrap, the blunderbuss is used for clearing ship decks, making way for the attacking hoard.
In the hands of Jack White it is the weapon used to set right the course of modern rock.
Bluesy, overdriven guitars: the flintlock.
Immediate and jaunting vocals: the trigger.
The ensuing blast: another signature Jack White production. Finally, White has put his name behind a solo album: “Blunderbuss.”
It’s a booming blast of rock paying homage to White’s past music projects, and it sets the new sound for all future rock albums.
Jack White might be the most plain Jane name in rock history, but when he makes noise, people stop and listen.
It’s easy to forget how unstoppable his first band, the White Stripes, was. From 2001 to 2007, the White Stripes released four albums, any one of which a mere mortal band would give their right arm to have released.
I first became a fan of White in 2001 when “White Blood Cells” came out. That album is essentially four chords, deconstructed garage rock solos and in-your-face aggressive vocals.
As soon as I heard it, I immediately learned how to play all the songs on guitar and left my music teacher’s lessons and what White calls that “note-pushing Stratocaster white-blues bullsh*t” behind me.
White is a bit of a mystery. He looks like a long-haired Barnabas Collins and about all that people know about him is he dated Renee Zellweger and he’s got a wicked cross. Just ask the black eye of Von Bondies lead singer Jason Stollsteimer.
White is one of my favorite musicians, and even I don’t feel like I really know anything about him. White keeps me off balance. It’s his most admirable quality.
It is and always has been about misdirection for White.
Remember when he and Meg White claimed to be siblings in the White Stripes, and then it turned out they were actually married? Or when he tricked us into thinking that he was just another member of the Raconteurs? Or that Dead Weather was actually Alison Mosshart’s band?
Listening to “Blunderbuss” for the first time I was initially confused.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the album, but synth rock and electronic dance music has ruled the music scene of late.
What does White do? He releases a piano-based, Americana hybrid rock album completely off base from what everyone else is doing.
What I’ve discovered from “Blunderbuss” is when it comes to music there is White and then there is everyone else. He is on his own trajectory.
You can hear White’s past, present and future all on “Blunderbuss.”
“Sixteen Saltines” totally could have been a White Stripes track. “Love Interruption” sounds like something from the Danger Mouse collaboration for the “Rome” project. The dirty chopped up guitar solo on “Take Me With You When You Go” is straight off a Dead Weather track.
Of the new tracks, the vocabulary challenging “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy” and the ivory tickling “Weep Themselves to Sleep” are standouts. As far as the album’s influence on the future, look for more releases from bands that lean Americana. Alabama Shakes anyone?
The cover of “Blunderbuss” shows White in front of a Nashville electric grid with a dark menacing bird sitting on his shoulder. It’s a symbolic image. He’s an outlaw and he’s coming after your senses, fully charged and fully loaded.