I’ve seen Jack White perform live a number of times, and every performance has been intense and authentic, rousing and raw. But never have I seen him quite so bristled. White always struck me as unique in his intense focus on the music and his evident disinterest in being a “Rock Star”. He’s always unpredictable, but I don’t recall reckless. Dark and intense, yes. Bitter and venomous, not quite.
Perhaps the hipsters bring it out in him, but he was unusually haphazard during the Dead Weather’s Los Angeles and New York performances. I was at the former, during which he stumbled across the stage chugging Champagne, babbled nonsense about Ulysses S. Grant and one hundred dollar bills, dove into the crowd on multiple occasions and spat subtle insults at the Los Angeles audience. He also proclaimed his love for Alison Mosshart with his wife in attendance.
The LA show was bizarre but nonetheless entertaining. The more recent performance at Don Hill’s in New York was a bit more spiteful. According to NME, he laid into the crowd:
Why don’t you rock the fuck out? Maybe I should go grab those free drinks and shove them down your throats, you hip motherfuckers!
Yikes. I’m not sure if the dark and stormy Dead Weather personality is seeping into his psyche, or if he’s just reached the point of success where he doesn’t feel the need to cater to an audience, but he’s certainly saying quite a loud Fuck You to a lot of people.
I’m still digesting it. This is heavy stuff we’re dealing with. So, in lieu of anything coherent from me, I’m going to let Pitchfork do the talking. I usually find their reviews pretentious and inaccessible, but this one struck me as particularly astute:
If anyone thought the Dead Weather was going to be the project where Jack White let someone else take the lead, those notions end a minute and 38 seconds into Sea of Cowards opener “Blue Blood Blues”, when White tears into one of his most nonsensically badass couplets ever: “Check your lips at the door, woman!/ And shake your hips like battleships!/ Yeah, all the white girls trip when I sing at Sunday service!” It’s fantastical tough-guy gibberish worthy of Bo Diddley, and it’s the sort of line that only an extremely confident singer would ever attempt, let alone pull off. It reveals the Dead Weather to be just another White vehicle– the one that plays host to his most deranged impulses.
A little over a year ago, I heard a rumor that a new Strokes album was in the works. I got really excited and started looking out for any news or updates regarding the album’s progress. After several months of no news, I began to forget what I’d heard. Then, that dreadful Julian Casablancas solo album came out, and all hope was lost.
I’m glad I wasn’t holding my breath. Turns out, there is, in fact, an album in the works. We have it straight from the horse’s mouth. But, according to that horse, Strokes drummer Fabrizo Moretti, we shouldn’t expect it any time soon. He tells New York Magazine:
We’re, like, inching ever so [much] closer to the fucking finish line, like turtles, but it’s happening.
Progress is so slow, in fact, that although they have already recorded all the tracks, they cannot promise the album will be released within the year.
Let me get this straight. You guys put out three albums between 2001 and 2006. You’re known for your underproduced sound, you’ve already finished recording, and you can’t wrap this thing up in eight months? What happened to you guys?
We know Jack White is an advocate of vinyl and all things low-tech. So, appropriately, if you want to hear the new Dead Weather album early, you’re going to listen to it on his terms.
The Dead Weather invites you to a listening party, where, for one day only, you can watch and listen to a Ustream live camera feed of Sea of Cowards, played on an old school record player, the way Mr. White intended you to hear it.
The band is also set to perform the album in its entirety at the Third Man Records headquarters in Nashville on Monday, May 3. You can watch a live stream of the performance beginning at 6pm EST on MySpace.
Jack White’s record label, Third Man Records, does things a little differently. Rather than focus on accommodating modern technology, they draw attention to traditional mediums and prioritize vinyl. Their approach to releasing music is: “digital where necessary; tangible where possible,” and this modern take on an old tradition is just more evidence as to why White is as successful as he is. He has uncompromising taste and artistic integrity, and he manages to turn his ideals into ideas that sell.
You can read or listen to the NPR’s full story on Third Man on the NPR website.
Another from Brothers. This one’s called Next Girl. Enjoy
To append Congratulations and Controversy, I thought it appropriate to note that Congratulations has surpassed Oracular Spectacular by leaps and bounds in the sales per week department. Whether this makes it a greater success depends on your definition of the word and is, once again, a subject of controversy.
It’s the best week ever for the alternative act, as its first set, 2007’s “Oracular Spectacular,” never sold more than 17,000 in a week and topped out at No. 38 on the chart. So far, that effort has sold 606,000.
Whether they like it or not, with these kind of numbers, MGMT has officially entered the world of mainstream success. Make of it what you will…it should be interesting to see how they handle it.