Jack White – Boarding House Reach Review

Jack White. The Jack White: One half of the White Stripes, Part of the Raconteurs, Part of the Dead Weathers, founder of Third Man Records, multi-instrumentalist maestro, producer and singer-songwriter. Even before Jack White went solo in the late 2000s his legacy was already cemented as one of the best musicians, never mind Rockstar’s of recent times. Yet, his most recent solo records have flattered to deceive. The hallmark of his two previous solo LPs, Blunderbuss and Lazaretto, rather than his trademark eccentricities has been safety and timidity. Whilst there have been moments of the weird and wonderful, by and large, it’s been solid after standard rock and blues tracks which, although consistently decent have been short of the energy and creativity which White has shown to possesses on previous projects like the White Stripes. On Boarding House Reach, however, White delivers in abundance and with such aggression that you really can’t look away. With few exceptions, Jack White delivers on an experimental and genre-wrestling album which forces the worlds of rock, electronic, blues and funk into one impressively unique and cohesive whole.

Whilst the opener, Connected by Love, nails its colours to the mast with it’s hypnotic beat and intricate melding of the guitar and organ for an impressive solo, structurally and lyrically it sounds more like Jack White from Blunderbuss than the Jack White who appears throughout the album. Thankfully, the follow-up track more seamlessly combines Whites blues background with the powerful electronic influence into an interesting ballad. It also features one of the best, of the many, guitar solos on the album as the guitar struggles against the electronics, cutting out intermittently and distorted before bursting through.

White is just so eccentric on this album. Even on the more upbeat tracks like Corporation, which for the majority of its run time features random shouting and a killer instrumental with some incredible bongo-style drumming. It’s companion piece, Respect Commander, has another banging instrumental with eccentric guitar riffs and escalating distorted electronics but slows down before segwaying into a wild guitar solo while Jack sings about his complete devotion to woman who has his complete respect and power over him. Structurally, the lead single, Over and Over, is peak Jack White and from the roaring of the opening riff you know you’re in safe hands with White’s energy and ferocity echoing Icky Thump era White Stripes.

Things get stranger when we move away from some of the more obviously Rock influenced tracks. For instance, on Ice Station Zebra White goes meta and spells out the whole idea of the album; both sonically and lyrically. The odd instrumental in the first half with this spikey guitar in the background and the lick of piano keys transitions into the much funkier second half all perfectly fits in with White’s point that music can’t simply be put into neat boxes, nor can artists think they are creating something in a vacuum: “Everyone creating is a member of the family, Passing down genes and ideas in harmony, The players and the cunics will be thinking it’s hard, But if you rewind the tape we’re all copying the same God”.

Even the instrumentals on this thing are so odd and cinematic. On Everything You’ve Ever Learned, Jack turns fiery preacher whilst on Esmerelda Steals the Show turns back to his more singer-songwriter style. The only time the experiment may go too far is on the track, Hypermisophoniac, which although innkeeping with the concept of the album has some ear grating electronic sounds which get stale and staler fast.

Overall, Boarding House Reach is a brave, experimental and eccentrically odd album that only Jack White could deliver; not only in the sense that White’s personality shines through on virtually every single track but also in its technical mastery and just how layered the songs are. If Boarding House Reach succeeds in anything (and it succeeds in a lot) it is to rejig (or remind us of) our idea of what a ‘Jack White Album’ is. No longer is it a stale, copy and paste, coffee house rock and blues, instead, it’s something all its own.

Jack White – Boarding House Reach = 9/10

Callum Christie

This Weeks Music Video with Jack White, Sigrid, Arcade Fire, U2, Rae Morris and Pale Waves

This Week Music Video with The Killers, Manic Street Preachers, First Aid Kit, Jack White, Franz Ferdinand and Suuns

Single Review – The Dead Weather – Cop & Go

After a 5 year hiatus, Tennessee rock supergroup The Dead Weather are releasing their third studio album titled ‘Dodge And Burn’. It’s set for release on September 25th, but until then listeners have been given two taster tracks, one of which is ‘Cop and Go’.

The track overflows with aggressive guitar and a persistent baseline, a nice snippet of what we should expect from the album upon its release. The song was initially previewed exclusively on Tidal, the streaming service co owned by the bands big time guitarist Jack White, and it’s now available on Spotify as well. White has also promised a string of instrument and discussion videos, which have already started with him explaining the drum specifics the band used on their debut single ‘Hang You From The Heavens’.
You can find more information on the bands website:
Hannah Crowe

MUSIC NEWS – Grammys, Kanye West embarrasing himself, Noel Gallagher ranting and Paul McCartney collaborating

Album of the Year

The 2015 Grammy’s saw Sam Smith clean up as expected with four awards including Record and Song of the year, Best New Artist and Best Pop Vocal Album for an artist with undoubted vocal talent and ability with the final two categories being very much deserved. Album of the year for which Sam Smith and Beyoncé were nominated, was won by Beck for his excellent Morning Phase (Not only did we give the album full marks but we put the album 2nd on a list of the year’s best albums) who also picked up Best Rock Album. The album also received Best Engineered, Non Classical Album and is a credit to Beck who played a monumental amount of the instruments on the album. Pharrell Williams picked up three Grammys for Best Video, Urban album and Pop performance whilst Aphex Twin won Best Electronic/Dance album which no one can complain about along with Jack White’s award for Best Rock Performance for Lazaretto. Best Altervative album went to St. Vincent’s self-titled masterpiece (we gave it full marks and put it top of out best albums of 2014 list) which was probably the most deserving of the lot.

Another cringe worthy moment occurred for Kanye West as the already bemused Beck picked up the Album of the Year award. West leapt on to the stage, went to say something and then sat back down for what he later explained was annoyance of Beyoncé not receiving the award and attacking Beck for diminishing artistry. Apparently writing, recording and composing all you own music and playing a vast amount of the instruments on your own including conducting orchestral pieces diminishes artistry as opposed to not writing, composing, recording or playing any instrument independently like Beyoncé for the wonderful vocalist that she is. Indeed her self titled album has undoubtedly her best work yet and Beck himself thought she was going to win, but perhaps for once they went for substance over status. Something clearly hard to swallow for Kanye who can only dream of the capability Beck used to bring Morning Phase into fruition again for as talented as Kanye himself is. But if you read Kanye West quotes then he gives you the exact reason why Beck won.

Meanwhile Noel Gallagher has been speaking out (like he has been for the last twenty one years) about his view of the music industry. Alex Turner has been back in his sights and anything making those in the NME office squirm is always welcome. He said he’d rather drink petrol than listen to him talk in what was a wider rant about record labels removing artists independence which was a point reiterated by his negative comments about Ed Sheeran. His isolated points are pretty much a reflection of what we were all thinking anyway.

Paul McCartney has been busy in the studio with another project. This time it’s with Lady Gaga and follows up from what seems to be a sizeable influence on Kayne West’s new material and collaborations with video game Destiny.  He’s not known for standing still but he’s making himself known to yet another generation.

Single Review – The Dead Weather – Buzzkill(er)

The Dead Weather have released two previously unheard tracks from their free downtime between the bands various commitments with the Kills, QOTSA and of course Jack White and his solo career. The tracks ‘Buzzkill(er)’ and ‘It’s Just Too Bad’ are being released as part of Third Man Records’ Vault Package Number 21 that has the track on a gold coloured seven inch. The first track features the dual riffs of the echoed and space creating outer riff and the more closely recorded and isolated grind of the nearer guitar, which also leads the main rhythm section and consequently most of the track’s instrumentals with only basic, yet sharp percussion behind it. Alison Mosshart and her strong, yet deliberately shaky vocal on the verses turn into shouts and bellows in the chorus. A low slung and neatly delivered track.

‘It’s Just Too Bad’ is a track that delivered in an even slicker, but also raw fashion with all the struggling guitars and feedback left and laid bare. This is in conjunction with a closer vocal from Alison, but one that has a less cleat focus upon it.

This Week’s Music Video with Julian Casablancas and The Voidz, Jack White, Karen O, Jessie Ware and Death From Above 1979

Sunday Suggestion – The Kills – Sour Cherry

The Kills are Alison Mosshart from Florida and Jaime Hince from Buckinghamshire and the duo released their debut album eleven years ago with Keep On Your Mean Side. Back in 2008 they released their third and most acclaimed album with Midnight Boom. It’s a album with a lot of heavy, fuzzy and scathing guitars that the song is formed around but these riffs are fluid and traversing. Not blocky and monotonous like may of todays pliers of such a trade. A fine example of this is the single ‘Sour Cherry’. Everything about this track has a constant buzz and tremble to it and this reflects on the fabric of the song. The distorted percussion is broken by fuzz enthused strikes of the guitar while Alison’s vocal; effortless in it’s delivery and close in it’s recording, rolls each line off with ease as she’s backed up by Hince’s equally laid back boasts. If the bold beat doesn’t hit you the brief blasts of the guitar will. The instrumental see’s Hince wrestle a sonically charged roar from his guitar before settling back into the thumping percussion section as it ends all too abruptly. An unconventional yet simple song in it’s drive and rhythm but a highly creative one at that. They make Royal Blood, Drenge or Darlia look like complete amateurs in every way. All this long before these groups set about their drab, droning sound. About six years in fact.

This Weeks Music Video with Jack White, Blood Orange, Electric Youth and Parquet Courts

Jack White – Lazaretto

Blood Orange – You’re Not Good Enough

Electric Youth – Innocence

Parquet Courts – Black and White

Jack White – Lazaretto Review

There is always a mystery and intrigue surrounding Jack White and what his next project might entail and that is purely a wait of expectation of whether the guy can remain on it like he was previously. The build up for his second solo album Lazaretto has not been any different leading towards the June 10th release of the album. If Blunderbuss had more of a folk tinge to it then Lazaretto will have a lot of garage and punk influences on top of the blues foundations. Another added dynamic is the use of both The Buzzards and The Peacocks in the album to offer up a slightly different delivery on tracks that he has said to have come up with when he was nineteen. No doubt many will have pre-judged this album on recently leaked emails between him and his wife which included bitter and hostile comments towards the Black Keys, but those things must be taken in isolation like his music perhaps aside from any lyrical reference of musical feel.

‘Lazaretto’ is the title track of course and gives us the first taste of a vocal performance from the album with the initial track ‘High Ball Stepper’ being an instrumental. Alarm bells ring initially as you think he’s gone for the big, monotonous distorted guitar sound like nearly every new band that comes out, however you are quickly shown that Jack White is a man of creativity. He isn’t just thrashing away at his guitar like a meathead thinking he’s Josh Homme, but he sculpts a rough and fuzzy groove from it and leaves the rest of the song spacious, broken down and fluid. Jack’s vocals teeter on the edge as always and are full of energy and punch that mimics the spaced up and fluid structure he’s forged by doing something different with the blocky distorted guitar sound. There’s also  laser like synths beaming over the other instrumentals which only serve to increase the urgency and this task is completed by the violin towards the songs conclusion. ‘High Ball Stepper’ is a track with no vocals but it would seemingly not need any. Jack’s guitar and the wiry strings conduct all the talking he needs. Whether the guitars are simply progressing through the chords, being manipulated and broken, typically heavy and distorted and then an all out scathing and raging affair, with feedback reeling off of it all. The wiry strings are almost the secret weapon here. They whip up a trepidation for each guitar stage and then go on to enable each riff to roll off it. This track is basically Jack White letting loose with a range of guitar parts and these are enhanced by the musical environment set around it.

‘Three Women’ has a much more soft edged feel to it, with the nudging rhythms a result of the piano parts and strung out guitars and winding sounds around it. The song’s close up and more soulful nature is triggered by Jack’s quick fire delivery being more strung out and solid in that sense and this is only accentuated by the backing vocals behind it. ‘Just One Drink’ is a low and steadily slung country roll and what’s particularly impressive is how Jack holds his vocal and turns it into a vocal hook but in a much less glaringly obvious fashion than your standard country vocal. ‘That Black Bat Licorice’ has a grinding riff that’s complimented by the thin, rotating organs in the background that enhance it’s quality. Songs such as ‘Alone In My Home’ have a 1970’s Rolling Stones feel to them. On a whole the album is wonderfully nostalgic with Jack still making his mark on it albeit primarily through production, vocal performance and of course his witty and puzzling lyrics. But with some tracks like ‘Want and Able’ it just seems a little dry and a bit like a filler. Though Lazaretto is a solid album as a whole, you do get a sense he wasn’t at his invigorating or innovative best.

Jack White – Lazaretto = 7/10