(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

CD review - The Raconteurs, Consolers of the Lonely (2008)

The Raconteurs effectively started out as Jack White's side project from the White Stripes. Lately, he's put more time in with them. Consolers of the Lonely tempers the low-fi White Stripes garage rock with some tighter drum work and more subtle musical complexity. Taken as a whole, it's still focused on an early '70s hard rock vibe, with a big debt to Led Zeppelin. The Page-Plant feel drenches many of these songs, with occasional flashes of early Queen, the Rolling Stones, and Styx. Compared to a group like White Denim, it's much cleaner and it's a more modern interpretation of these influences.

Top Yourself is great example of how the Raconteurs have a different balance than the White Stripes. It's got a jazzy blues intro and then a nice complexity of parts, with slide guitar, banjo, and some great cymbal work on the drums. It's still working that Led Zeppelin/English blues vein that White loves, but it's a lot more interesting sonically.

Similarly, These Stones Will Shout evokes the softer Zep songs, like Going To California. The first couple of verses are clean and sweet, with the focus on two guitar parts and the vocals. When the band comes in, things shift into more of a choppy rock beat. This takes on more of a Who feel, especially with the Keith Moon influenced drums.

The cover of Terry Reid's Rich Kid Blues digs deeper into Led Zeppelin back history. Terry Reid was Jimmy Page's first choice for a lead singer. Robert Plant ended up with the job when Reid passed on the offer. This cover is fairly close to the original, missing some of the looser vocal delivery. It's another bit of retro, with more Styx (The Grand Illusion) than Led Zeppelin. It's a great song, with some nice guitar work.

By contrast, Many Shades of Black is fairly weak. It's a bluesy number, dominated by horns. The verse has a bit of Queen or Aerosmith vibe. Only Jack White's flailing, incoherent lead keeps it from sounding like an outtake from one of Pink's albums. Frankly, she would have done a better job with it.

I haven't talked much about the country feel of songs like Pull This Blanket Off or Old Enough. They add another element to give the album an interesting flow.

Something about Consolers of the Lonely makes me think of gin, either gin and tonic or maybe a gimlet.

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