Jan 022014

I know there must be dozens of examples of Doppelganger Rock – that is, a song by some less well-known (or even utterly obscure) artist that sounds, upon casual listening, just like a more famous one. For the sake of clarity and specificity, I don’t include mere soundalike singers. Rather, it’s more the overall vibe of a band or artist that is evoked by the musical doppelgangers. The singer doesn’t have to be an exact copycat as long as the performance, upon first listen, makes you think immediately of the more famous artist.

OK, actually I can only think of three examples off the top of my head right now. The first and perhaps most obvious one is New Jersey-based early-Beatles copycats the Knickerbockers singing “Lies” in 1965:

It occurs to me that not everyone will agree that a certain performance sounds like another artist, so for my second example, “Sweet Sweet Heart” by pre-Vibrators outfit Despair in 1973, I won’t say who it reminds me of. Whaddayathink?

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May 022012

Jack White‘s new solo album, Blunderbuss, has been promoted by performances featuring an all-female backing band. For his appearance on Saturday Night Live, for instance, he performed one song backed by his women and one song backed by his dudes. The discussion I hope to explore in no way is meant to question the qualifications of either of his backing bands. What I’d like to discuss is how these promotional efforts—and based on White’s long career built on exquisite “branding” there can be no denying that his new band of “Jack’s Angels” is not part of his latest promotional campaign—play for you, especially the legion of women who often lurk here in the Halls of Rock.

Townswomen, when you see a Jack White (or a Prince—this seems like something he’s done) backed by an all-women band for the launch of a new album do you feel that more of a sincere support of sisterhood or a Fellini-esque male fantasy is at play? In other words, is there a part of you that wonders whether this a legitimate version of this?

Jul 282011

Super-busy day ahead, but in a little side discussion I’m having with Townsman Oats in this week’s All-Star Jam regarding a new book by and interview with Simon Reynolds, he takes the following shot, which is too good not to bring to The Main Stage:

One key point from Noel Murray’s rebuttal: Reynolds may regard Jack White as some sort of analog purist poseur, but the majority of earthlings who rock out to “Seven Nation Army” don’t consider it a throwback. It’s considered a key rock song of the ’00s. No one hears that song and thinks back to 1971, except maybe some sticks in the mud who may comment on a rock blog;)

To my ears, putting aside the issue of the nonexistent bass, White Stripes couldn’t have been a more fan-friendly throwback unless he’d been backed by the Delaware Destroyers. Does Oats and the “majority of earthlings” who constitute His Generation actually hear the music of White Stripes as “visionary?” Where do you fall on the issue of Jack White: Throwback or Visionary?

I look forward to your comments—and members of the Bad Attitude Club can check their bad attitude at the door!

Feb 022011

Color me anything but red and white!

The fact that this is new today is news to me: The White Stripes have broken up.

Beside making appearances on Conan I thought The White Stripes broke up a year or two ago. I mean, wasn’t that pretentious film of their tour of Canada supposed to be their swan song, or was that just increasingly wishful thinking the more I watched of that turd?

The band left the following touching statement on their website:

The White Stripes do not belong to Meg and Jack anymore. The White Stripes belong to you now and you can do with it whatever you want. The beauty of art and music is that it can last forever if people want it to. Thank you for sharing this experience. Your involvement will never be lost on us and we are truly grateful.

To celebrate our inheritance of their Jack and Meg’s legacy, I invite you to do any of the following—and whatever else appropriate strikes your fancy:

  • Please send me your favorite track(s) by the band. You can burn them for me or upload them to the Hall if you have Back Office privileges. I only have 2 songs by them on my iPod, and now that the band belongs to me, I’d like to see if more of their songs are worth my giving repeated listens. The key is, since they’ve turned over the keys to us, I don’t feel like paying.
  • I don’t know about you, but I was getting tired of the red & white thing. It’s time to rebrand. Please scan or download The White Stripes photo of your choice and use a graphics program of your choice to propose a new color scheme/branding for our band. Submit your designs (jpg, gif, png, pdf) to mrmoderator [at] rocktownhall [dot] com by Friday, February 11. Be creative. The winner will be awarded a really snazzy prize!

Thank you, Jack and Meg, for providing a surefire hot-button focal point for old, bass-obsessed farts and relatively younger, hipper Townspeople; some great guitar sounds; the confidence to learn the drums; the opportunity for some to giggle over terms like “rack toms”; and so much more.


iPod Dive

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Jan 052011

So work has had me on the train quite a bit and that means going through my iPod more than usual. Two interesting thoughts/observations:

  1. I’ve been listening to the old Canadian, all-girl group Plumtree. They wrote the song “Scott Pilgrim” that spawned the graphic novel, movie, etc… They play pretty good, guitar driven pop-rock, which I dig. Here’s my dilemma: If they were GUYS making the same music, I’d probably hate it and think it was kinda weak. But being that it’s gals, I more than give it a pass, I kinda give them points for rocking. Is this sexism? (Reverse sexism???) Anyone else feel this way regarding “chick” bands?
  2. I’ve listened to the White StripesIcky Thump and have some thoughts on them. I was given their first album by a coworker back in the day and dismissed them as being a gimmick. (What? No bass???) And I’m generally suspect of musicians-as-celebrities-actors-daters-of-actresses like Jack White. But…over the years I have to say, every time I’ve heard a new White Stripes song on the radio—or of his offshoot bands—I’ve always admired that the guy consistently puts out Rock music with a capital R. I mean the guy is the only mainstream act to put out heavy, chunky, thuddy rock. And I shake my head and say, “Man, I gotta hand it to that dude, he’s heavy.” So…this Icky Thump album is pretty darn good in a odd country/blues/rock meld that works. And, the drummer who gets a horrible rap…is pretty f’n good. Or at least she works perfectly for this style—behind the beat rock, which I also dig. Am I alone with my respect for Jack White?

Sorry for the long post 🙂

Feb 182010

I just saw It Might Get Loud, the documentary featuring Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White discussing their musical influences, approach to, and general love of the guitar.

The only Jack White-related product that I own is the Loretta Lynne album and the only U2 album I have is the live album from the early ’80s (and it’s not mine so I’m not sure how it ended up in mixed in with my records). But even though I have only a casual interest in most of their music, I liked the movie and I found all three guys to be fairly engaging, although Jack White comes off as a bit affected. The Edge, on the other hand, seems like he’s in the running for “nicest, most down to earth mega star.” Anyway, some questions came to mind:

1. How would you rank these guys in order of your personal preference?

2. How would you rank these guys in order of their influence?

3. If you could replace one with another guitar player, who would it be (keeping in mind that your new guy must be in a high-profile band, must have a distinct style, and that style must be different from the other two remaining guys).

4. Is there any artist that you dislike so much that you won’t watch a documentary about them?

5. Will you watch the upcoming Doors documentary narrated by Johnny Depp? If so, will you mute/fast forward through the Ray Manzarek parts?

6. Does anyone have any idea how I ended up with that U2 album and several copies of Back in Black in my album collection and somehow managed to lose most of my Who and Led Zeppelin albums? I suspect that alcohol may have played a role.

Mar 252008

So The Raconteurs are back with a second album (streaming at Phawker.com – 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:
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