White Stripes deliver 'Icky Thump'

They love the blues, record with analog equipment, whip up albums in two or three weeks, write songs that are short and sweet and prefer to keep things sounding rough and ready.

But don?t call the White Stripes a retro band ? or garage rock, for that matter. Frontman Jack White wouldn?t be too keen on that.

IckyThumpCD-01-01.jpgIn some ways, the White Stripes are a band out of time, recalling classic American rock, blues, folk and country, with a touch of punk ethos.
Because of their ability to touch it all up with modern sensibilities, they have lured in a young audience blissfully unaware of where the music originates.

And if you think you know what the band is like based on their edgy, but less adventurous, singles, you need to go deeper into their acoustic numbers and other quirky originals to greater understand their style and influences.

Icky Thump packs a wallop

Their sixth and latest offering, Icky Thump, stirs international flavors into its milieu, making it their most eclectic album to date and, perhaps, their most ferocious.

The spaghetti western vibe of the Corky Robbins cover ?Conquest? features radiant mariachi horns, while the couplet of ?Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn? and ?St. Andrew (This Battle Is In The Air)? possess a strong Scottish vibe enhanced by raucous bagpipes.

And the group takes on quasi-metal (the title track), earthy blues (?300 M.P.H. Torrential Outpour Blues?), and an acoustic ballad (?Effect and Cause?).

?This is the first time we allowed ourselves to go to a modern studio,? admits the amiable and well-mannered Jack White. ?We?ve always been scared of it. We always thought it would make us sound plastic or it was in the wrong direction. We?ve always made it hard on ourselves, to try to make something interesting happen out of a shittier situation, so this was a new challenge for us.”

With the new digs came new challenges.

?How do we maintain the same sounds and intensity and powerful tones that we want to have in an environment that?s known for not having that? We thought that there had to be a way we could do this and get away with it, and we found this place in Nashville that had this amazing microphone collection,? says White. ?This wouldn?t have been a good idea for us to do on our first couple of albums. But now, this seemed to be the right idea, because we have the experience behind us and know what to do and what to use in a studio environment.?

White Stripes ? a history

Over the course of thier first decade, the Detroit-spawned duo of guitarist Jack White and drummer Meg White has successfully shrugged off the garage-rock tag by evolving from a raw, raucous, blues-based rock band into a raw, raucous, multi-dimensional, Americana-flavored outfit that has softened its edges a little while retaining its unpolished, blues-based style.

They have also created a mystique for themselves with surreal, yet funny, videos and by publicly claiming they are siblings, even though they are actually a divorced couple. (White has since remarried to model Karen Elson, who appeared in the ?Blue Orchid? video.)

Visually, their trademark image involves the dominant use of black, red and white on their album covers, a motif that continues even in their new video for the title track to Icky Thump.
They also have stirred up musical controversy, not only for their lack of a bassist, but moreso for Meg’s straightforward and uncomplicated drumming.

Fans have argued whether she is holding back and playing what?s needed, or if she simply is not that advanced.
No doubt she can lock into a strong groove, but she never gets to show off like her bandmate. In August 20

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