Mar 252008

So The Raconteurs are back with a second album (streaming at – click the title of this post to be magically transported there). Who woulda thought The Raconteurs would really be a band and not just a Jack White side project wank-off one-off? Not me, buddy boy. Not me. And while I tip my tri-corn hat to the Raconteurs for kicking it old school, turning this thing around so quickly, and releasing it without all the pomp and circumstance that usually precedes a White Stripes release, I just wish this album didn’t suck so bad. To wit:

“Consoler of the Lonely”: Nice Bad Company/Foreigner vibe, for what that’s worth. Now they’ve shifted into a goofy sub-Zeppelin section that verges on, I don’t know, Les Claypool territory. Now back to the more traditional rock groove and then a little guitar and drum workout. Meh.

“Salute Your Solution”: Remember the ’80s, when SST bands wanted to flex their ’70s hard rock roots? Between the sloppy playing and worse production, the end result was its own thing, which often often sucked but at least avoided punk-rock charges of being “bloated,” “wanking,” and “pointless.” Well, Jack White and the boys can play, and they know a few things about producing. As a result, this is a bloated, wanking, pointless hard-rock workout.

“You Don’t Understand Me”: What is this, a tribute to Asia or Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, and Howe? Actually, as it plods along, it’s beginning to sound more like one of those later-period Crosby, Stills, Nash albums, which retained a hint of what was good about that combo before Neil Young moved on.

“Old Enough”: Dig that fiddle stew and the multi-tracked lead vocals. All that’s missing is the flute and the codpiece and we’d have the makings of a Fairport Convention (circa Full House)-Jethro Tull collaboration, or maybe this is a track from an early Traffic album. The Raconteurs really need to apply their knack for cheesy ’70s craftsmanship to remaking Boston‘s first album. I mean that as a compliment.

“The Switch and the Spur”: This reeks of that wouuld-be Sergio Leone soundtrack number that was on the last White Stripes album. Worse yet, it’s Men at Work meets “Theme from an Imaginary Western”. Check out the brief, powerful guitar solo for a hoped-for saving grace. Now there’s some chanted coda that sounds like Styx. This turd is blossoming on the vine.

“Hold Up”: I don’t believe I’ve ever heard the music of Uriah Heep, but I imagine it sounds like they beginning of this song. For some reason I’m reminded of smoking dirtweed with a kid from 8th grade named Chris out of pipe he carved out of an apple core. Like that pipe, this song is half-assed, but it’s more fun than anything else I’ve heard on this album.

“Top Yourself”: I think we’re in for a blues hoedown. The singer’s “not going to stick around to help” his self-absorbed woman. Here’s a threat we’ve never heard before. Just last night I was watching the melodrama Mildred Pierce, and Joan Crawford‘s first husband character threw down pretty much the same challenge. We know how that worked out. Now, I know Led Zeppelin III blues hoedowns. Led Zeppelin III blues hoedowns are a friend of mine. This is NOT a Led Zeppelin III blues hoedown!

“Many Shades of Black”: Blood, Sweat & Tears do “Satisfaction”? Paul McCartney jams with Chicago? Is the point of The Raconteurs to allow the band members a chance to come clean with the guilty pleasures of their record collections? Can’t they frame this professionally done mediocre music in a rockumentary setting so that I’m better able to laugh along with the jokes?

“Five on the Five”: Another Les Claypool-does-Rick Derringer tune. More dirtweed smoked through the apple core pipe. Music like this makes me begin to appreciate Guns & Roses. There’s something fun about this song, but I feel like I should be trolling 15-year-old girls. Yuck.

“Attention”: This sounds a lot like a White Stipes song. Even when they switch from the direct garage approach to a little Judas Priest chorus section it sounds out of place on this album. And I mean that as a compliment. What’s going on now, are we “moving in stereo” with this Cars-like breakdown? Nope, we’re back to a Man of the People ’70s guitar dual. Don’t tell me the songs just going to end on a string of breakdown cliches. Yep, that’s all we get.

“Pull This Blanket Off”: A Mott the Hoople bluesy ballad vibe kicks off this track. Come on, guys, for the good of us hipsters, at least make this one as good as a Black Crowes song. Now the song just broke down into…nothing. Jeez, these guys can’t match Black Crowes? Where’s that recent Marah album when I need it?

“Rich Kid Blues”: Serious early Foreigner vibe cooking in this one. Early Foreigner wasn’t half as bad as later Foreigner. They were like an overblown Humble Pie when they first hit, and if The Raconteurs could pull off a song as good as a Humble Pie song I’d do a backflip. I’m actually feeling a hair or two stand up on my back as this song plays. (I don’t really have to do a backflip, do I? I’ll just say I did.) This instrumental coda really hits the spot! The song was crying for it, and the boys delivered. I’m telling you, Jack White should hole up for a while longer with this band and create an album that matches Boston’s timeless FM rock.

“These Stones Will Shout”: This folky Tull intro is promising. Let’s see where they go with it. It’s so easy to go wrong when introducing a song with a Celtic folk stomp… OK, it’s now rocking out a bit. As the harmonies build the song is sounding more like some high school production of Tommy. Not the road I feared they might take but a bad road nevertheless.

“Carolina Drama”: Christ, Jack White in his dusty porch storyteller mode is really annoying! I’d like to punch him as soon as I hear this phony persona. Is this song over yet? No such luck, just a tender piano-choirboy interlude. Let’s return to our regularly scheduled hoo-doo-voodoo slice of Americana. Snooze… More choirboy stuff! This may turn into a funny-bad song yet… Ugh, now he’s going to give us the end of the story. Way to drain your own song of unintended humor, Jack.


  40 Responses to “Insta-Review: The Raconteurs, Consolers of the Lonely

  1. sammymaudlin

    Anyone else hear this? I dig the 1st one and between you me I’m starting to think KingEd is a bit of a crank.

  2. saturnismine

    KingEd is a bit of a crank? ya think?

    who gives a flaming wad?

    he’s right about this one.

    jack white sounds like he’s running out of ideas.

    rich kid blues indeed.

  3. Mr. Moderator

    KingEd’s getting his ass kicked over at Phawker. A couple of guys posting comments have had the nerve to question his expertise. I listened to the album today, and I’m standing by KingEd on this one. However, is it all White’s fault, or does the Brendan Benson a few of you worship deserve some of the blame?

  4. saturnismine

    benson’s songs aren’t that great either. i think the whole thing’s a turd.

    i just meant to say more specifically that in listening to jack white’s songs, i’m beginning to hear a general same-ishness in approach that i began hearing on “get behind me satan”.

  5. 2000 Man

    I’m picking my copy up next week, so I’ll reserve judgement. I’m a little concerned, but I’m going to wait to hear it on cd. My sincerest wish is that The Greenhornes album had come out first. They’re one of my favorite bands and I’d really like to see them again. Maybe things will change between this week and next!

  6. saturnismine

    2k, agreed on the greenhornes.

    but what’s the difference between listening to phawker’s stream (which is of very high quality) and “hearing it on cd”?

    not sure i understand….

  7. 2000 Man

    Saturn, the difference for me is system quality. My computer sounds okay for a computer, and at lower volume levels it’s actually quite enjoyable. But this is a big assed rock n’ roll record, and I want to listen to it with some volume behind it and no screen with the world at my fingertips to distract me from it. For once, it’s not just because I’m a snob. I really want to pay attention to this. Oh, and The Greenhornes album is supposed to be essentially “in the can,” or so I’ve heard. Maybe this fall?

    KingEd took a minor beating from some Jack White fanboys but he returned the smack in a fashion that actually made me LOL. Out loud.

  8. The difference between hearing music on your own stereo or in your car rather than on the Phawker (or any other) stream can be significant. I’d guess that the half-assed Raconteurs tunes I reviewed would better tingle the spine if cranked up on home stereo speakers. Chances are I’d still find much to dislike.

    When I’m called in to do my Insta-Reviews, they’re almost always done at the computer, using the same feed everyone else gets. For the Gnarls Barkley review, I actually downloaded the tracks digitally, but the file names were screwed up, and I listened to the thing in the wrong order. I’ve been told the album is better in its true order, but that’s one I feel no need to revisit.

    2000 man and saturnismine, if you’re the same as the Saturn who had my back on Phawker, thanks for the support and understanding. It can be a drag sometimes informing people what trendy new release they’ll end up shoving in the back of their collection a few months from now.

  9. saturnismine

    no problem, ed. that was me. those pick-a-ninnies offered little of substance in their hissy fit criticisms of you or their support of the album.

    i guess i didn’t understand the difference between streaming phawker and listening to the cd because here on planet saturnismine, my computer is hooked into the mother ship so that the streamed shit comes out just as big and real as the vinyl or the cds.

  10. trolleyvox

    The batting average of supergroups constructed from other well-known bands in terms of quality rock is shockingly low, is it not? The few successes that I can think of at the moment: Rockpile, Led Zeppelin, CSNY, maybe a few Blind Faith songs. I mean, Asia? Tin Machine? The Raconteurs? Isn’t there a rock ‘n’ roll equivalent to the SEC, some overarching authority that says, ok, you can form a supergroup, but only under the following conditions, and don’t expect the public to bail you guys out of your risky investment in supergroup rock glory hubris.

  11. I prefer the first album’s take on ELO to the second album’s take on Procol Harum.

  12. saturnismine


    i wouldn’t consider zeppelin a “super group” at the time of their formation: plant and bonham were unknowns. JPJ had only done session work for donovan.

    they were only ever described as such retroactively.

    but yeah, you’re right, supergroups generally don’t work.

  13. 2000 Man

    But what about Toto or The Alan Parsons Project? I remember people telling me they were super.

  14. alexmagic

    Isn’t there a rock ‘n’ roll equivalent to the SEC, some overarching authority that says, ok, you can form a supergroup, but only under the following conditions, and don’t expect the public to bail you guys out of your risky investment in supergroup rock glory hubris.

    I’ve long thought that someone needs to be elected Mayor of Music or President of Music and be granted the power to make those kinds of hard decisions, like vetoing the formation of a supergroup or an attempted comeback, or stepping in to stop a band or artist from attempting an inadvisable genre hop or from doing a cover they have no business touching. It would have to be someone in the business with enough elder statesman status to win the music establishment over in a vote, but still be able to speak to today’s bands. A rock uniter, not a rock divider, but with the resolve to do what needs to be done.

  15. saturnismine

    dr. john, i think you’ve got it just right regarding the racs’ second album.

  16. Wait a second. I get beef from Saturn for referring to the dilhole who owns Pat’s Steaks as a “dumb guinea fuck,” and yet it’s okay for him to casually toss out a term like “pickaninnies”? What’s next, he’s going to refer to the guy who gave the “I have a dream” speech as “Martin Luther Coon”?

  17. saturnismine


    i should have looked up pick-a-ninny before using it. now i see that i’ve erred. since it has the word “pick” and the word “ninny” in it, i really thought it meant something like “persnicketty” and “sissified” at the same time. seriously. sorry about that.

    but i can’t even remember the incident you’re describing…but your detailed memory of something that occupied maybe an hour of our time a few years back betrays your own sensitivity on the matter.

    regardless, we can use racial or ethnic slurs in any number of ways, with varying degrees of malice and varied results, right?

    i mean, noone likes to read the phrase “dumb (insert ANY racial or ethnic slur here) fuck”, in reference to their own background, regardless of how dumb or how much of a fuck the individual in question might be. i think that, and, as i seem to recall, your utter unwillingness to apologize at all (on display again above), defined the roots of my objection, not the use of the use of the word “guinea”, per se.

    I may not have been able to articulate it that day, due to various factors, especially haste.

    btw, i think you’re referring to the guy at geno’s, not pat’s (he’s the one who wants everyone to speak english when they order). i’ve often wondered what would happen if i went to the window of his fine establishment and ordered in ITALIAN?

  18. Mr. Moderator

    Ed, if this Dylan guy who’s pissed at you over at Phawker writes a better review than you, you’re gone, brother! I can’t speak for Valania and his blog, but my people have feelers out with Dylan’s people. That kid’s majored in Politics AND Philosophy. No offense, but your management experience with Staples doesn’t match up.

  19. Saturn: actually, my memory is that I did apologize quite sincerely at the time. (And you’re entirely correct, Joe Vento is indeed the dumb fuck in question, and I withdraw my slur on the fine people at Pat’s.) What actually reminded me of the incident was a story last week that the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations ruled that the signs are not discriminatory, a ruling that I disagree with on a couple of levels. (Including the English major in me that shudders violently at the deeply irritating deliberate misuse of “wit,” which I find nearly as gag-inducing as seafood places round these parts that claim to sell “lobstah.”)

    I genuinely didn’t know that you didn’t know the meaning of the term you used, and thought that you were deliberately using a term that I personally somehow find even more offensive than the more common ones, because it implies that the user is going out of his way to revive old slurs, as if there aren’t enough in common parlance. Hence, enough momentary outrage to revive my own unfortunate choice of words. I apologize for that.

  20. BigSteve

    What I find most odd is Dylan’s claim that Ed’s review “spent most the time referencing mildly obscure artists.” Marah may be mildly obscure, but everyone else mentioned in the review was pretty mainstream. Coming from the man who leaked the 2007 Bonaroo line-up, this is disturbing.

    I think you could make the case that an insta-review is for entertainment purposes only. I’ve read Ed’s insta’s before. This one did seem loaded down with “name-dropping,” but I suspect that is more of a function of The Raconteurs’ lack of originality.

    I’m actually not a big fan of the review-as-entertainment genre, but I suspect Dylan is going to produce the kind of fanboy mash note that is even more useless. I don’t expect much from someone who doesn’t know how to use the idiom “to say the least.”

  21. BigSteve

    It was obvious to me from context that saturn didn’t know the real meaning of pickaninny, though I briefly wondered whether the term had somehow evolved without my knowledge so that it now meant ‘a ninny who is overly picky.’

    This reminds me of the time last year when Mitt Romney was raked over the coals for casually using the term ‘tarbaby.’ I didn’t think the term had enough traction to be considered offensive, but I guess it does. I’ve offended myself just by writing this post.

  22. saturnismine

    48, i apologize for not remembering your apology! i may have tuned out of the thread before you issued it. but as i said at the top of my post, my memory of it all is genuinely hazy.

    you’re right about the Human Relations Commission’s ruling: deliberate ingenuousness.

    and i’m a genuine dope where alot of these terms are concerned because i grew up in a household where such things were never uttered (except by my grandmother, who had her own special terms, “pickaninny” not being one of them).

    BigSteve, 48, or anyone else….do you remember someone getting raked over the coals for *properly* using the word “niggardly”, the meaning of which has nothing to do with its near homonyn, the “n” word? am i remembering this correctly?

  23. hrrundivbakshi

    Hey, Sat —

    You are remembering the “niggardly” event correctly. It took place, *of course*, here in the nation’s capitol, where an otherwise extremely well regarded city finance administrator (or something) used the term to describe an undesirable style of spending/investment. All holy hell broke loose, and the guy ended up resigning. Which just goes to show you what happens when a bunch of belligerent, undereducated nincompoops with too much time on their hands get involved in politics. Like the man said, sheesh.

    My most embarrassing moment of unintended racial offensiveness was when I used the term “let’s just call a spade a spade” in a meeting with, among other people, a very good African-American friend of mine. It was so far out of my mouth that there was no real turning back (“…come on, guys, let’s just call a spade a — (gulp)), but Jerome was cool enough to recognize I had never thought of the expression like that.


  24. hrrundivbakshi

    I’d also like to apologize on behalf of all those who have yet to apologize for not apologizing enough regarding this apology issue. Still, it makes me feel good to know that there’s a good feeling taking root here in this feel-good forum.

    Ahhhh… HEALING!

  25. You don’t have anything to apologize for there, Hrrundi: the proverb comes from the Greek and predates the ethnic slur by a couple millennia. Once in college, I saw someone get so hot-headed over that one that I went and looked up the derivation just to prove her wrong. (I really disliked this woman, because she once rather brazenly ripped off one of my ideas for a paper, apparently not knowing that her professor in that class was also the advisor for my undergrad thesis.) Anyway, Plutarch said it, and not only that, but “spade” itself is a mistranslation. The original was something like “To call a fig a fig and a basin a basin.”

  26. I’d like to know what evidence Dylan has for accusing Ed of already hating the record before listening to it. I think that would be pretty hard to prove, unless Dylan can read minds.

  27. BigSteve

    I know from personal experience that one absolutely cannot use the word ‘niggardly’ anymore, unless you want a big mess to erupt which no amount of explanation will put right. I remember when ‘spade’ was not considered offensive. In fact it was a term hippies/freaks used for any black man (never a woman). It was neutral. Its origin though is the expression ‘black as the ace of spades’ which I can’t help but hear in (I think) Graham Chapman’s voice from a Monty Python sketch. Some people consider ‘negro’ offensive now. I can’t keep up.

  28. dbuskirk

    I just know transvestites like to be called “ladies”.

  29. Mr. Moderator

    Whereas most women under a certain age do not…

  30. hrrundivbakshi

    Hey, G48 — all I gotta say is: huh! That’s good to know, and thanks for lightening my White Man’s Burden a bit!


  31. general slocum

    Mr. 48 illunimates:
    Anyway, Plutarch said it, and not only that, but “spade” itself is a mistranslation. The original was something like “To call a fig a fig and a basin a basin.”

    What a relief. No wonder that guy flipped out all those years ago when I called him a basin. I can sleep now.

  32. I think this is kind of funny, but KINGED’s review makes me want to buy(download/steal) this record!
    I love all those bold face bands…uh…except PRIMUS.

    Hey Saturn, You are one articulate fuckin dego!

  33. I remember reading three years of ‘White Stripes’ hype until i finally heard a song by them. I’ve never laughed so hard in my life.

    Isn’t everyone bored by his amateurish shtick by now? Normally critics crucify you for a lack of artistic growth. Why the pass?

    The myth of authenticity has a lot to answer for.

  34. BigSteve

    Homie, I’m with you on the Stripes. They have some defenders here, but I found the stuff I heard risible. Brilliant marketing though.

    I’ve been checking Phawker, and there’s still no sign of Dylan’s corrective ‘review.’ I wonder if he flaked.

  35. hrrundivbakshi

    Homefront, BigSteve, all I can say on the topic of the White Stripes is: WE REACH!

    For the record (not that it should be any surprise), I’m quite certain we’ve got e. pluribus Gergley on our side as well. Anybody else want to join us on Team Immune-From-Hype?

  36. alexmagic

    I hope the guy is taking his time to write a review of each song in the form of letters from a Ken Burns documentary to match the Raconteurs’ look in that photo.

  37. I think Jack White is pretty good at writing straight forward rock songs (in fact, the title track off Icky Thump has stuck in my head for quite a while now).

    When he gets away from this, however, the results are mixed. I think he has ventured the furthest away on the new Raconteurs album–which is why it’s so flat.

  38. saturnismine

    I volunteer myself as captain of “team doesn’t give a flying fuck one way or the other about the hype around jack white and likes some of his songs in spite of it, not because of it”.

    this team is also known as “team one foot in both camps and therefore may appear wishy washy to the more emotionally involved among us rather than reasonable”.

    anybody with me?

    dr. john, i think you say it just right in your post above. there are songs on every white stripes album i like alot (“sister do ya know my name?” “apple blossom”…lovely stuff).

    they might be covers, they might not. i’m often not erudite enough about roots of the the vein he’s tapping to know (though i know enough to know that “your southern can is mine” is a cover, duh).

    either way, i don’t care.

    my head was too much in the sand around the time they came out to have heard the hype. but a girl i was dating had “red blood cells” and it sounded way more fun than most of the shoe-gaze crap she had in her collection. closer listens didn’t tire me of the stuff.

    i liked it very much. subsequent albums hit a sweet spot for me, too.

    though i’ve never been a compulsive daily, or even weekly listener to any of their releases, hearing the early stuff usually gives me great pleasure.

    but as i say above, since “get behind me satan”, I’ve been hearing jack place more emphasis on his persona and his status as a producer. and he has also displayed a self-consciousness about putting his “musicianship” up front. as you say, it’s much less stragiht forward these days.

    and it’s turning me off. i heard ‘icky thump’ on phawker and didn’t even care to buy it. you can see above that i didn’t really like the first racs album all that much, and am even less thrilled with this.

    oh well….too bad.

  39. Saturn, I am on your team!

  40. ‘It’s True That We Love One Another’ from ‘Elephant’ sounds suspiciously enough like ‘Creque Alley’ by the Mamas and The Papas, (self-referential lyrics and all), that I assumed it was a obtuse cover version when he couldn’t quite remember how the original song went.

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