Monday, July 28, 2014

Extended Play: Jack White: Lazaretto

Holy cow Batman, this has been sitting in my drafts folder for too long. So,  I'm a month late and a dollar short, and Jack White's new album really isn't new anymore, but let's chat about it anyway!

I know that some people have issues with Mr. White. A lot of these issues come from interviews; he can easily come off as smug or aloof when doing the talky talk, but he isn't a talker, he is a music maker, so lets put aside all the awkward interviews and focus on the music.  His newest album, Lazaretto, named after a leper colony, tells a wild musical story, there are gritty loud rock and roll assaults, there are soft country songs twangs, and simple sweet songs that are pretty darn addictive.  It is instantly recognizable as Jack White, but there are also elements that sound brand spanking new.

And one of the biggest new elements on this album is the physical album itself.  Jack seems to like the walk the thin line between cray cray and genius. The vinyl version, the "Ultra LP,  of this album is insane. When I first played it, I thought, "Man, why are you making this so complicated." One side of the album plays from the inside out, songs are at different speeds, there are hidden tracks, some tracks are endless loops, and oh yeah, there is a hologram. A hologram. That appears as you play the record. A hologram. Proof via moi:
It's an angel, right above the blue label. 

Here is a little clip of The Jack White talking to Jimmy Fallon about the all the features of the vinyl:

But are all these extras just gimmicks to distract from the music?  Nah. The songs stand on their own,  whether they are blasting digitally from your iPod as you walk the city streets or come from your turntable as you sit cross legged on the floor reading the liner notes.  The extra fancy vinyl just forces you to spend a little more time with the media, to once again be awed that music is coming from this magical spinning disc, and see music as art, rather than disposable entertainment.

Some of my own little notes on the album:

Don't get me wrong, I love a little raucous, go ahead and do a James Brown spin on the subway platform during rush hour, but I am finding myself more and more leaning towards the quieter songs on this album. Alone in My Home, which Jack and friends performed on Conan, looking way pale under mood lighting,  is probably, at this very moment, my favorite track:

"These stones
That are thrown against my bones
Break through
But they hurt less as time goes on"

Other favorites include:

 "Want and Able," is a little tune, and the only song that Jack plays solo, speaks to the tension between things you want and things you are actually able to do or have or accomplish:
"Want said it didn't feel so good
To never be fulfilled.
Forever stressed out, and impatient,
Saying 'just over the next hill.'" 


 Entitlement, with it's healthy dose of religious guilt:
"I can't bring myself to take without penance
Or atonement or sweat from my brow"

Jack White is currently touring with this new album, you can check out the tour schedule here. 

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