Jack White: Like Jack Black, But Lighter!

Dave DiMartino
New This Week (NEW)

Hi! I don't want to bore you with moronic First World problems, but I write about music for a living--and I just spent about 15 minutes trying to remember the name of an album I've been listening to off and on for the past month or so and...I couldn't do it!

Here's all I knew: It was an album made by a dude who used to play keyboards in Stereolab or something. Had absolutely no idea what name it was recorded under, but I recognized it when I saw it on my car's iPod, and I used to play it a lot. I remembered the name of the publicist who'd sent it, but after searching for his name I still didn't see anything recognizable. Still, I'd ripped it--and added the cover art manually, since iTunes didn't help-- but I couldn't remember the name of the album or artist.

So I shifted my home computer into iTunes'  "album art display" mode, fanned everything back and forth a few times, and finally found it.

All this for an album I like.

My plan is to write about it now--so later I can Google "Stereolab," "keyboards," my name, Yahoo, and, I dunno, "Aunt Jemima," and remember its name later by entering data! Unless I'm watching a good TV show or something! Then I may simply forget all about it!

Incidentally, I like that detective show with that chick in it!

Jack White: Blunderbuss (Third Man) Would love to say that I've been totally enraptured by the recorded works of Jack White from Day One, but why lie? He sounds like a guy with pretty good taste but, sadly, second-tier talent--and when you strip away the hypothetical excitement surrounding his former band the White Stripes, throw in his various, mildly exciting side projects, and his admirable--in a workmanlike manner--career resuscitations of people like Loretta Lynn, you're left with a guy who makes records like this, which peak during the one or two times he almost convincingly evokes the bluesiness of mid-'60s rock/faux blues bands like Chicken Shack, then ambles on into territory already well, well-trodden. Admiring him for his intent, which I guess I do, almost seems like an insult. In short: he's excitingly OK!

Carole King: The Legendary Demos (Rockingale) Released just as King has issued her autobiography, this fascinating package will reveal to those who intellectually know--but haven't really felt--the degree to which songwriter King has had a vital role in our understanding of what constitutes classic pop music. Included here are the original demos that inspired the eventual hit versions of such songs as "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," "Just Once In My Life," "Pleasant Valley Sunday," and "Take Good Care Of My Baby," and all of them sound like they might easily  have been hits in these original versions. Also included are run-throughs of "You've Got A Friend" and "It's Too Late," and they too are magical. This stuff is ungodly good, and it's amazing that one person (plus co-writer!) was responsible for it. Highly recommended.

Warren Haynes Band: Live At The Moody Theater (2 CD/DVD) (Stax) Maybe it's the subliminal legitimacy that the Stax Records imprint brings to this album cover, but guitarist Haynes--well known for his polished work with Gov't Mule and the latter-day Allman Brothers--has never sounded better in his life. This set, a jam-packed collection featuring his own material, clever covers of Steely Dan's "Pretzel Logic" and Hendrix's "Spanish Castle Magic," and much more, including a DVD featuring this entire Austin, TX performance in 5.1 surround sound, focuses on his skills as an instrumentalist and an entertainer and will be eye-opening to those who've never actually seen him in action. Many notes, and not a one in excess.

Lee Brice: Hard 2 Love (Curb) In the scheme of things, calling your album Hard 2 Love exactly when you're being described as being a hit songwriter for "a litany of country music's most virile chart toppers from Garth Brooks and Kenny Chesney to Jason Aldean and Tim McGraw" is not a bad idea! Nor is having your songs described as portraying "the nuts and bolts realism of the 'man's man' spin on life in today's reality series-driven culture"! Still, you actually have to make the album--and, further, be photographed wearing a dandy hat on your album cover! It's a dicey situation! That's why I--and most people like me--plan not only to buy this album, but to shave it daily! It's a man's album, through and through! And I've decided to call it Larry!

Junior Electronics: Musostics (Bureau B) The work of one Joe Watson, who's played keyboards with Stereolab since 2004 and apparently produced their last three albums, and who fashioned a fine solo album that--due to its anonymous title, his chosen recording name, and its deliberately arty cover art--continues to escape my memory mere seconds after my typing it! Apparently, this is purposeful and part of a, er, "structuring principle"! Hey, so is my car! All I know is, the music is quite nice, the vocals sound like a cross between Pink Floyd's Richard Wright, the dude from Dalek I Love You and someone from 10cc, and this exists independently from anyone's particular desire to purchase it! It's accidentally good!

Brendan Benson: What Kind Of World (Readymade) There must be some deliberately contrary aspect of my nature if I'm here to tell you that I actually admire the works of young Mr. Benson here more than those of his more celebrated Raconteurs pal Jack White; maybe it's a function of his being more obscure in making reference to his influences, or maybe I'd like to see these dudes simply have it out and hold a wrestling match to determine who's better! Yeah, that's why I'm into the Indigo Girls, too! Let's all meet up at the snack bar and talk about it!

Deep Purple: Total Abandon: Australia '99 (Eagle) I confess! I've now totally consumed myself with listening to the complete recorded repertoire of artists I once was less than excited by--and after a few months of listening to virtually everything by Deep Purple, from start to finish, I was ready and willing to receive this set as the veritable gift from the gods it must be! Quite good? You bet! Featuring famed Purploids Ian Gillan, Jon Lord, Roger Glover, Ian Paice, and comparative "newbie" Steve Morse on wailing guitar, the dudes hit Australia with the abandon promised by the album title, run through the fabulous repertoire, both old and new, and take the very workmanlike-ness of their lot in life and create something new, powerful, and its own way, oddly iconic! Were they to be singing in another language entirely, it would be complete bliss!

Terry Manning: Home Sweet Home (4Men With Beards) A vinyl re-release of a deliciously obscure 1970 album originally released on Stax imprint Enterprise (and since reissued on CD in the UK), Home Sweet Home features the Memphis-based producer/engineer fully rocking out in joyous excess, and it is a wonder to hear. Major highlight is the 10-minute freakout version of George Harrison's "Savoy Truffle," to be sure, but my personal fave remains Manning's take on Johnny Cash's 1958 hit "Guess Things Happen That Way"--which hurls everything-plus into a sliding, guitar-heavy mess that in 2012 now sounds incredibly ahead of its time. A rewarding listen any way you look at it, the album is also a must for Big Star fans, as it offers up an early appearance by that band's guitarist Chris Bell. Hot stuff.

Peter Gabriel: New Blood: Live In London (Eagle Rock) Those who didn't pick up the DVD or Blu-Ray of Gabriel's 2011 appearance at the Hammersmith Apollo can check out this live double-CD--which likewise features orchestral arrangements of some of the singer's best-known works as well as cover versions from his recent Scratch My Back album. Word is the coming eight-track will have bonus tracks!

Mickey Avalon: Loaded (Suburban Noize) Taking his name from a famous mouse and Annette Funicello's partner in the early Beach Party movies, and dubbing his latest set in honor of a much-admired Velvet Underground album, Mickey Avalon is pictured on its cover sincerely hoping you will buy it! He looks kind of earnest, doesn't he? And he did all the right things! Let's pretend we will, just for kicks! I do that a lot!

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