The Top Five Rock Artists of the Decade (2000s): NUMBER THREE is Jack White

Originally posted 2010-04-13 14:34:59. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

This is the third in a five part series dedicated to the top five rock artists of the decade, 2000-2009.  The criteria used to determine this list were: (1) Quality of Music, (2) Quantity of Released Material, (3) Diversity of Media, and (4) Roles of Artists/Band Members.  Look for new posts coming soon!

By Chris Moore:

Easily one of the busiest figures in contemporary rock music, Jack White has made it his business to write, record, perform, and produce music every chance he gets.  There is something breathtaking about the apparent ease with which he has transcended genre lines and brought the influences back to his own music.  It is equally impressive to consider how many directions he has been pulled in during this decade, and yet how strong his contributions have been to each of his numerous ventures.

I, for one, wasn’t sure what to make of this straggly-haired ax-grinder when I first heard of him in the wake of the White Stripes’ breakthrough effort Elephant in 2003.  I’ll never forget tuning in (on the advice of a friend) to Late Night with Conan O’Brien during their week-long tenure promoting this aforementioned album.  “Seven Nation Army” may have been overplayed for some, but I loved its gritty, riffy simplicity, punctuated by White’s lead vocals and Meg White’s wonderfully boneheaded drumming.

With each new White Stripes album I’ve heard, I’ve realized more and more the degree to which Jack and Meg — particularly Jack — are experts at finding their comfort zones, then burning them down.  In the Raconteurs, he contributes a very big, very characteristic guitar sound, somehow crafting a new landscape without plagiarizing his White Stripes sound.  And the Dead Weather, his second side project, is something else all together, a sound that White pulls together with his drumming rather than his guitar work.

Taking these three bands into consideration, then throwing in his solo work and other one-off collaborations for good measure, there is simply no way to avoid giving Jack White a respectful — if not awe-filled — nod for his exemplary contemporary rock music created this decade.

BLACK & WHITE & RED ALL OVER

Any music promoter will tell you that it’s not simply the sound of a band that is important, but also their image and general appearance.  Jack and Meg White have excelled with this other half of the equation, always dressing in red, white, and black, as well as seeing to it that their album artwork follows suit.  Their music may draw comparisons to acts of the past like Led Zeppelin, but this is no retro act.  In their continually developing sound, and equally in the way they dress and act, the White Stripes are one of the most interesting bands of the decade.

How to go about describing such a band in a few paragraphs?

I’ll start with words like quirky, bold, frenetic, complex, basic, and that’s just to begin with.  Since 2000’s De Stijl, the White Stripes have released four more albums:  2001’s very promising White Blood Cells, their major label debut Elephant in 2001 (a.k.a. their personal catapult into the pop culture lexicon), 2005’s piano-driven masterpiece Get Behind Me Satan, and most recently, a return to distortion drenched guitar in the riff-laden reveries of 2007’s Icky Thump.  By the time they released their first live CD, Under Great White Northern Lights (2010), the White Stripes had developed quite a catalog to draw from.

That they are able to achieve their sound with just two band members is intriguing.  Granted, Meg White suffered a breakdown that resulted in the cancellation of some tour dates in 2007, but there have been confirmed reports since last year that they are already at work on their seventh album.

A SIDE PROJECT, A SIDE PROJECT FROM THE SIDE PROJECT, AND MORE!

Jack White’s work in the White Stripes is substantial enough to be considered notable, but it is his wide variety of ventures outside the scope of his primary band that cinch his position at the upper part of the contemporary rock music ladder.  His five contributions to the Cold Mountain soundtrack in 2003 suggested that he had more to give than could be satisfied in one band alone.  He has since gone on to produce and play on a laundry list of other albums, including Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose.  More recently, he wrote and recorded an outstanding duet with Alicia Keys for the James Bond film Another Way to Die, the first duet in the Bond series.

With all the writing, performing, and recording White has done since the early nineties, it is interesting to note that his first official “solo” work was released in 2009 — the single “Fly Farm Blues.”

In addition to these one-off efforts, White has joined not one but two side projects.  The first, the Raconteurs, formed in 2005 along with power pop rocker Brendan Benson (sharing guitar duty), bassist Jack Lawrence, and drummer Patrick Keeler.  After their 2006 debut Broken Boy Soldiers, they followed up quickly with the phenomenal Consolers of the Lonely in 2008.  The latter is easily one of the best rock music albums of the decade, and it is an outrage that I passed over it for my Top 50 Albums of the 2000s list.  This is the Jack White music that I am perhaps most drawn to: tight, fully-produced, riff-driven songs with an abundance of crunchy guitars, a rockin’ rhythm section, and catchy leads.

As if that weren’t enough to keep him busy, White co-founded the Dead Weather in 2009 with the Kills’ lead singer Alison Mosshart, guitarist Dean Fertita, and Raconteurs bassist Jack Lawrence.  This is an altogether different venture that features a grungier tone than the Raconteurs or even the White Stripes.  The songs are a bit longer, and could be described as a set of almost-jams.  After I heard their interpretations of Bob Dylan’s “New Pony,” a so-so deep track from 1978’s Street Legal, I was hooked.

In summary, this decade has seen Jack White bring the White Stripes to worldwide rock music fame, form not one but two side groups, release his first single as a solo artist, and contribute to a myriad of other artists’ albums and soundtracks.  At the time of this writing (early 2010), there is a May 11th release date set for the follow-up Dead Weather album, confirmations from White that the White Stripes will be releasing an album in the near future, and whispers of an all-out solo record from the man himself.

Hands down, Jack White is my pick for the number three rock music artist of the 2000s for all the right reasons: the sheer quantity of music produced, his development of a signature guitar sound, and his collaborations with other artists (Dylan, Beck, and more in addition to those mentioned above).  It’s a no-brainer, my friends.

“After Midnight” (J.J. Cale, Eric Clapton Cover)

Originally posted 2009-02-23 23:56:48. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

For J.J. Cale / Eric Clapton chords and lyrics, CLICK HERE!

By Chris Moore:

Okay, so before I explain my song choice tonight, I have to briefly address the music video I just watched.  I really do love music videos, and it seems a lost art.  Interestingly enough, it seems that the MTV show “Total Request Live,” or TRL for short, both furthered the popularity of music videos… and led to their demise.  I mean, what’s better than a show devoted to showing music videos?  Oh, wait — TRL, not unlike commercial radio, ended up circulating only about ten popular videos on any given day.  Oh yeah, and the show only aired clips of those ten music videos!  What?!  Who decided on this format?  No wonder they finally took it off the air!

To be fair, I heard that the show had recently adopted a more progressive format, utilizing online resources to poll viewers, etc.  But I stopped watching the show loooong before that.

Anyway, back to the music video I just watched.  I was on Yahoo and saw a link to Coldplay’s new music video for “Life in Technicolor II” — it’s a great one!  I was impressed with the overall progression of the video, as it documents a children’s puppet show that turns into an all-out rock’n roll concert that includes the puppet versions of Chris Martin and company playing their instruments, and Martin not only jumping around (hanging as though suspended in the air as he sings “Now my feet won’t touch the ground”) and crowd surfing.  It ends with them being picked up, in true rock star style, by a helicopter that exits the room by smashing through a window.  Which begs the question… how did it get in in the first place?

And this is wonderful…

…except for the fact that the Barenaked Ladies already did this!  Certainly, Coldplay’s video is not a plagiarism of BnL’s music video for “Pollywog in a Bog” last year (I wonder if they even saw it), but it seems odd that they did a puppet show so soon after BnL.  I guess that just goes to show how ahead of the curve they are.  If you haven’t seen these videos, you should definitely go watch them.  BOTH of them — it’ll be worth the six minutes of your life it will take!  (Just search on YouTube for “Barenaked Ladies Pollywog” and “Coldplay puppets”).  The BnL video is especially worthwhile, if only for the really cute animal puppets that look creepily similar to the respective band members.  Such a fun and funny video!!

Okay, so back to my video for tonight…

Those of you who regularly frequent the blog will already know that my goal this year is to tie every “Chris Moore Monday” in somehow with the following New Music Tuesday.  So, you may be wondering what a J.J. Cale song that is over four decades old has to do with new music…  Well, J.J. Cale is releasing a new album tomorrow entitled Roll On, his first solo album since 2004.  His most recent success was The Road to Escondido, an album recorded in 2006 in conjunction with Eric Clapton.  This was certainly not their first interaction, as Cale wrote the songs “After Midnight” and “Cocaine,” both of which Clapton popularized.  When I was growing up, my dad would often play his “Cream of Clapton” greatest hits, which included both of these songs.

Thus, it is my honor to bring you an old Cale track in honor of his new release, which (again) comes out tomorrow.  This song may have been written in 1966, but he’s still writing and recording in 2009 at the age of 70, and that is nothing short of amazing!

Don’t forget to rush back tomorrow for an all new Jim Fusco Tuesday…

See you next session!

“Bathtub Gin” (Phish cover) [Ep 8, Fall 2011]

Originally posted 2011-12-16 04:00:27. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jeremy Hammond:

I recently had to take my acoustic/electric into the shop to get it looked at, since the “electric” half of it wasn’t working, and a Made in the U.S.A. Fender Strat was hanging on the wall.  I couldn’t resist.  I took it home (yes, I paid for it first).  It feels great and has great tone and sustain, even out of my tiny little amp. So here’s “Bathtub Gin” by Phish.  I laid down the rhythm and vocals first (single take), and then laid the solo over that track. This is a fun tune and I love the solo melody, particularly when played on my new ax.

[Editor’s Note: We’re happy to welcome Jeremy Hammond back for another featured performance on the Guest Sessions.  He’s another one we bend the rules for a bit — there’s a solo overdubbed — but this is hardly bending, since the main performance (electric and vocals) was recorded live, at the same time.  “Bathtub Gin” is a great song; lyrically, it sounds Dylan-esque, which is more than fine with us!  :-)  The guitar work is perfect, and the solo is spot-on.  So, go ahead and enjoy this cool cover song music video by Jeremy and hurry back next week for the season finale!]

“Mexican Hat Dance” (Traditional cover)

Originally posted 2010-04-16 12:30:55. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jeremy Hammond:

I was just playing around and worked out a fun little arrangement for this traditional song that everyone will recognize.

** EDITOR’S NOTE: **

I couldn’t resist picking this as our Guest Sessions featured video of the week.  It’s a fun little song, and a fun little performance by one of our favorite contributors to the site.

We may know this popularly as the “Mexican Hat Dance,” but it is more formally known as “Jarabe tapatio.”  It was first compiled in Guadalajaran music professor Jesus Gonzalez Rubio as a medley of Mexican folk music.  It has since been honored by many as the national dance of Mexico.

This is your Guest Session electric cover song instrumental video.  We hope you’ll enjoy it and hurry back next week for another great contribution!