CD Reviews: Jack White, The High Strung and more
Jack White works best when someone can bounce the best of his musical ideas back at him.
That explains his impressive run of collaborators of the past decade from White Stripe Meg White to Dead Weather's Alison Mosshart to the country royalty of Loretta Lynn and Wanda Jackson. For "Blunderbuss," White's first solo album, he may be working alone, but he certainly seems driven by someone, or several someones.
"Blunderbuss" is filled with anger at people, mostly women, who are untrustworthy and mean. "You took your time talking trash, now you're trying to bring your garbage to me," he announces in the Louisiana-tinged kiss-off "Trash Tongue Talker." The White Stripes-ish "Sixteen Saltines" packs jealousy and put-downs in with the bash-it-out guitar riffs.
Even when White is trying to be positive, it comes out dark, declaring, "I want love to roll me over slowly, stick a knife inside me, and twist it all around," in "Love Interruption," which makes the "Son of a Preacher Man" vibe feel more desperate.
"Blunderbuss" only gets darker and more impressive upon repeated listening. It's an endlessly interesting world to visit, but it also makes you wonder if White needs to make some new friends.
Mentioning the name Yann Tiersen in casual conversation might draw blank stares, but it's hard to find someone of a certain cinematic bent who doesn't cherish the 2001 French film "Amélie," the marvelously evocative soundtrack of which the Tiersen built from parts of his second album "Rue Des Cascades." That signature swirling-accordion sound has since evolved considerably, as evidenced by the scale of "Skyline," a soaring suite of uplifted cosmic rock nocturnes that instead recalls the lush, moon-cratered work of acts like Sigur Rós. Though these are proper songs, a filmic feel still pervades his work, such as on "Forgive Me," in which a galloping, Ennio Morricone-esque drumbeat underscores the slow synthesizer build a complex, wordless movement that slowly resolves into the titular refrain before fading into the ether.
'¿Posible o' Imposible?'
The High Strung
As one of the more memorable footnotes of the Detroit-based retro-garage boom of the early 2000s, The High Strung soldiered on quietly through the ensuing decade, but largely escaped wider notoriety until the nervy power pop track "The Luck You Got," off their 2005 record "Moxie Bravo" was selected as the theme song for the William H. Macy Showtime series "Shameless." That electric number is included as a bonus on their latest release, but unfortunately serves as a reminder of what's missing: the aforementioned moxie lost on the band's current low-energy incarnation.