Wednesday, June 27, 2007

On Holiday

To y'all: It seems the Canals has unfortunately hit a slow season in its summer life. With Danny off at summer camp (what a child) and myself roughing it in the Guatemalan wilds, we will not be making nearly as many posts as we would like in the next few weeks. For now, here's our boy Cobb's review of the White Stripes latest, Icky Thump.

Benjy has been asking me whether I reviewed Icky since the day it was released. White Stripes albums do a weird thing to a man. With every album of theirs I’ve heard (excepting the infectiously catchy Get Behind Me Satan) I’ve initially been underwhelmed. Maybe it’s the absence of a bass to line the bottom of their songs, or Meg’s simple drumming, but I never love their albums on first listen.

I am now, however, a believer. Two overreaching comments about it as a whole: 1) Everyone was hyping the album by saying it was “heavy.” Maybe it’s because I only have a mass-less digital copy of the album (legally purchased, for all the Penn Law admissions officers out there), but I never felt the supposed weight of the album. Perhaps since it was their first album recorded in a modern studio, but I would describe the sound as big. Like Led Zeppelin as stadium rock. 2) This is not their pop album, which is strange since it was released under Warner Bros. and has been pimped on MTV. Get Behind Me Satan (and Jack’s other band’s last effort, “Broken Boy Soldiers”) must have exhausted the easy-on-the ear radio jams in Jack’s repertoire. What we have here is a clash between screeching solos and bizarre riffs.
Which, I think, is the only way the Stripes could go. Jack’s simple hooks and Meg’s austere drumming carried them through 5 albums. Now, Jack is adding more riffs and more solos to each song. The track listing shows 13 tracks, but that number should at least be 26. Nearly every song has multiple personality disorder (or Dissociative Identity Disorder if you follow DSM-IV*). Just listen to 300 MPH Torrential Outpour Blues’ tortured oscillations between quiet blues and scorching rock and roll; or perhaps I’m Slowly Turning Into You’s giant organ and rollicking guitar.

My only real complaint of the album is the complete lack of piano. It is, however, made up for by a dueling trumpet-guitar track (“Conquest”), two bagpipe tracks (both of which are great, don’t be fooled by critics), organ, and a synthesizer.

Reading other reviews, no body seems to be able to come to a consensus. This is the Stripe’s worst album — it’s their revitalization. It’s refreshing — it’s juvenile. “Conquest” is a bad joke — “Conquest” is the best track on the album. Perhaps that’s because no critic is listening to the album the proper way: while driving too fast around hairpin mountain turns in a 1987 Honda Accord with very loud and very shitty speakers.They'd realize it's soul revitalizing blues for the flogged spirit of rock and roll.

*I think we all know psychology is a pseudo-science.

-Jacob Schutz, poet laureate


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