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HEAR YE: The Raconteurs Consolers Of The Lonely

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ed_king.thumbnail.jpgBY ED KING ROCK EXPERT So The Raconteurs are back with a second album. Who woulda thought The Raconteurs would turn out to be a real band and not just a Jack White side project wank-off one-off? Not me, buddy boy. Not me. I tip my tri -corn hat to the Raconteurs for kicking it old school, turning this thing around so quickly and releasing it without all the pomp and circumstance that usually precedes White Stripes release. But I just wish this album didn’t suck so bad. To wit:

“Consoler of the Lonely”: Nice Bad Company/Foreigner vibe, for what that’s worth. Now they’ve shifted into a goofy sub-Zeppelin section that verges on, I don’t know, Les Claypool territory. Now back to the more traditional rock groove and then a little guitar and drum workout. Meh.

“Salute Your Solution”: Remember the ’80s, when SST bands wanted to flex their ’70s hard rock roots? Betweenraconteursflyer.jpg the sloppy playing and worse production, the end result was its own thing, which often often sucked but at least avoided punk-rock charges of being “bloated,” “wanking,” and “pointless.” Well, Jack White and the boys can play, and they know a few things about producing. As a result, this is a bloated, wanking, pointless hard-rock workout.

“You Don’t Understand Me”: What is this, a tribute to Asia or Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, and Howe? Actually, as it plods along, it’s beginning to sound more like one of those later-period Crosby, Stills, Nash albums that still had a hint of what was good about that CSN before Neil Young moved on.

“Old Enough”: Dig that fiddle stew and the multi-tracked lead vocals. All that’s missing is the flute and the codpiece and we’d have the makings of a Fairport Convention (circa Full House)-Jethro Tull collaboration, or maybe this is a track from an early Traffic album. The Raconteurs really need to apply their knack for cheesy ’70s craftsmanship to remaking Boston‘s first album. I mean that as a compliment.

“The Switch and the Spur”: This reeks of that would-be Sergio Leone soundtrack number that was on the last White Stripes album. Worse yet, it’s Men at Work meets “Theme from an Imaginary Western”. Check out the brief, powerful guitar solo for a hoped-for saving grace. Now there’s some chanted coda that sounds like Styx. This turd is blossoming on the vine.

“Hold Up”: I don’t believe I’ve ever heard the music of Uriah Heep, but I imagine it sounds like they beginning of this song. For some reason I’m reminded of smoking dirtweed with a kid from 8th grade named Chris out of pipe he carved out of an apple core. Like that pipe, this song is half-assed, but it’s more fun than anything else I’ve heard on this album.

“Top Yourself”: I think we’re in for a blues hoedown. The singer’s “not going to stick around to help” his self-absorbed woman. Here’s a threat we’ve never heard before. Just last night I was watching the melodrama Mildred Pierce, and Joan Crawford‘s first husband character threw down pretty much the same challenge. We know how that worked out. Now, I know Led Zeppelin III blues hoedowns. Led Zeppelin III blues hoedowns are a friend of mine. This is NOT a Led Zeppelin III blues hoedown!

Raconteursflyers.jpg“Many Shades of Black”: Blood, Sweat & Tears do “Satisfaction”? Paul McCartney jams with Chicago? Is the point of The Raconteurs to allow the band members a chance to come clean with the guilty pleasures of their record collections? Can’t they frame this professionally done mediocre music in a rockumentary setting so that I’m better able to laugh along with the jokes?

“Five on the Five”: Another Les Claypool-does-Rick Derringer tune. More dirtweed smoked through the apple core pipe. Music like this makes me begin to appreciate Guns & Roses. There’s something fun about this song, but I feel like I should be trolling 15-year-old girls. Yuck.

“Attention”: This sounds a lot like a White Stripes song. Even when they switch from the direct garage approach to a little Judas Priest chorus section it sounds out of place on this album. And I mean that as a compliment. What’s going on now, are we “moving in stereo” with this Cars-like breakdown? Nope, we’re back to a Man of the People ’70s guitar dual. Don’t tell me the song’s just going to end on a string of breakdown cliches. Yep, that’s all we get.

“Pull This Blanket Off”: A Mott the Hoople bluesy ballad vibe kicks off this track. Come on, guys, for the good of us hipsters, at least make this one as good as a Black Crowes song. Now the song just broke down into…nothing. Jeez, these guys can’t match Black Crowes? Where’s that recent Marah album when I need it?

“Rich Kid Blues”: Serious early Foreigner vibe cooking in this one. Early Foreigner wasn’t half as bad as later Foreigner. They were like an overblown Humble Pie when they first hit, and if The Raconteurs could pull off a song as good as a Humble Pie song I’d do a backflip. I’m actually feeling a hair or two stand up on my back as this song plays. (I don’t really have to do a backflip, do I? I’ll just say I did.) This instrumental coda really hits the spot! The song was crying for it, and the boys delivered. I’m telling you, Jack White should hole up for a while longer with this band and create an album that matches Boston’s timeless FM rock.

“These Stones Will Shout”: This folky Tull intro is promising. Let’s see where they go with it. It’s so easy to go wrong when introducing a song with a Celtic folk stomp… OK, it’s now rocking out a bit. As the harmonies build the song is sounding more like some high school production of Tommy. Not the road I feared they might take but a bad road nevertheless.

“Carolina Drama”: Christ, Jack White in his dusty porch storyteller mode is really annoying! I wanna punch him when I hear this phony persona. Is this song over yet? No such luck, just a tender piano-choirboy interlude. Let’s return to our regularly scheduled hoodoo-voodoo slice of Americana. Snooze… More choirboy stuff! This may turn into a funny-bad song yet… Ugh, now he’s going to give us the end of the story. Way to drain your own song of unintended humor, Jack.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ed King likes a lot of things, but mostly he likes to be left alone. Ed has kicked around the outer orbits of the periphery of local scene for some time. He was there when Tuxedomoon played Revival. Ed likes all things great and some things good. Anymore, what falls short of those simple criteria gets harder to bear. He appreciates you respecting his privacy at time like this.

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25 Responses to “HEAR YE: The Raconteurs Consolers Of The Lonely

  1. Chuck Says:

    Ed is an idiot.

  2. Genius Says:

    How are you a rock expert? You sound like an idiot. If you’re such a rock expert, man, then you would realized Rich Kid Blues is a cover, smartass. You don’t know dink from dank.

  3. KingEd Says:

    Genius, who are you to challenge my qualifications? The aim of the Insta-Review gig is to type out immediate impressions – and feelings, man – in real time. I’m writing about the music at hand, not name-checking all the AMG-accumulated factoids needed to justify what passes for music knowledge these days. After you’ve heard this Raconteurs album, how ’bout you write back and show us what your ears are made of? You too, Chuck.

  4. Dylan Says:

    I’m fairly confident that you know the names of a lot of bands/artists, and nothing about actual music. This album is far better than your “review” suggests.

  5. Dylan Says:

    Here’s how we know you’re a jackass . . . you every time you name dropped, you put the artist’s name on bold.

  6. Daniel Says:

    ok, so i have listened to the album and i find your criticisms to be ‘bloated’ and over reacted. I find the album to easily be the cleanest (in production terms) jack has made. Consolers is much better than the Racs first effort “broken Boy soldiers”. The title track was not the smoothest song and leaves much to be desired. Salute your solution deserves much more respect than you give it (none) and is a good choice for a first single, which it is. Old enough wound up as one of my favorites, and is a more thoughtful revisit to “Yellow Sun” from their debut. Honestly, Ed, if you dont like “hold up” you must really be what you sound like, a grouchy old fart, who spends weekends clutching his favorite zeppelin albums, reliving old high school memories. Hold up is a raconteurs/early stooges frenetic blues romp, perfect. Top yourself and many shades of black are instrumentally perfect, proving wy the raconteurs are indeed a force in the hipster world of indie rock. Now, 5 on the 5 is my absolute favorite left over from BBS and they absolutely nail this song, easily the best song on the album. Attention, and rich kid blues are also wonderful songs. To make a long response short, Ed is an idiot. you can stick to reviewing the new panic at the disco, or coldplay albums. thank you

  7. mitchell Says:

    The problem with insta-Review is that some albums take longer to digest than others. Clocking at a whopping 55 minutes long, this album must be given multiple listens before you can even begin to see it as a whole.

  8. Dylan Says:

    Re: Daniel
    That was a much better analysis of the album. I agree with most of your sentiments. This is a stellar album . . . and I knew it from the FIRST listen.

    Mitchell,
    While I agree, some albums take longer to digest than others, and it does take multiple listens to digest any album. However, I knew this was a solid album from the first listen. “King Ed” appears to have come into the review already biased. He takes a sarcastic tone to the whole review, and it appears he was ready to hate it before he even heard it.

    He opens the view with this statement:

    Who woulda thought The Raconteurs would turn out to be a real band and not just a Jack White side project wank-off one-off? Not me, buddy boy.

    Which strikes me as moronic from someone whose job it is to review music. Jack White has been dedicated to this collaboration for a long time, and frequently expresses his interest in working on as many projects as possible, not simply The White Stripes. Furthermore, The Raconteurs first album saw a fair amount of success. “Steady As She Goes” still gets radio airplay, not that any of that is further motivation for Jack White, but why write them off?

    I think this album is a huge step up for the band, and it is a shame this was one of the first “reviews” to hit the intrerweb.

  9. KingEd Says:

    Daniel,

    I appreciate the thought and consideration you’ve displayed in the short time from first calling me a “jackass” for following a formatting convention of boldfacing names and other terms at first introduction (not to mention capitalizing proper nouns – maybe the true sign of a jackass) to “moronic” for having a preconceived point of view about an artist’s offshoot album by his BAND, man. Seriously, do you not recall Bowie’s everlasting commitment to Tin Machine and his vow never to play his solo hits following the Glass Spider tour? Seriously, I think it’s great that you’re standing behind your man. There’s a lot to love about Jack White and his approach to music; it’s just the music on this particular album that didn’t do it for me.

    As for the belief that I have a “job” to review records, I’ll take that as a compliment and try to continue doing my best. That said, there’s no reason I have to review any album from your point of view or any bullshit “objective” point of view. What’s there to be objective about, especially when my mission is to write out my reactions to a record in real time, the first time I listen to a record. Should I break down the harmonic structure and analyze the meter of the lyrics? Should I throw in some nonsense about an “aeolian harp?” Do you really think I’m such a jackass that I don’t sometimes listen to a record a second or third time and then change my opinion? Recently I bought both the Malkmus and Cat Power albums I initially Insta-Reviewed. I bought them with my own money. On multiple listens, I’ve since come to like each of them better than I initially did. But my thoughts on those subsequent listens weren’t part of my job description.

    Finally, Daniel, I had one chance to listen to the new Racounteurs album and comment on it. You had multiple chances to read what I wrote. I say in my Insta-Review that “Hold Up” is “more fun” than anything else I’d heard to that point on the album.

    Mitchell, I also respect your thoughts, and I’ve got to give you credit for having the ability to know that this was a “solid album” at first listen. I hope to arrive at your conclusion with subsequent listens. Surely, you have heard the sounds on this album exactly as the gods of rock intended them to be heard. Bravo!

    Seriously, dudes, if you’re not already doing so, I encourage you to blog your own thoughts on new albums, whether you do so off the cuff or over multiple spins and a snifter of brandy. Even writing Phawker with opposing points of view is cool. Just watch it when you question my credentials as a Rock Expert, OK?

  10. Saturn Says:

    I’ve had my problems with Ed’s reviews in the past, I’m a big Jack White fan, and enjoyed the first Racs album.

    but I gotta say, you boys who are jumping down Ed’s throat sound like the band’s overly emotional girlfriends. you’re entitled to disagree, of course, but lighten up, unbunch your panties, and yada yada yada.

    Ed’s not going to come over to your hipster pad and ruin your *personal* enjoyment of the record (ed, you wouldn’t do that, would you?)

    and even though i’m a fan, and was really looking forward to this release, i must say, regrettably, I agree with ed: it’s a polished turd of little substance, really not unlike that mid70s AOR bloat that ultimately caused a younger generation of artists to get back to basics with a sneer.

    I have a feeling that in a few years, when you’re fishing around for something to spin that you haven’t listened to in awhile, you’ll look at this cd and think “pass”. and when 5 on the 5 comes up on “shuffle” you’ll hit “next”.

    but seriously, boys, there’s no need to get emotional over any of this.

  11. TommyN Says:

    Great album, really really poor review, the reviewer comes across as having a serious chip on his shoulder with this regards to this band. It’s almost like a spoof review by a Jack White hater.

    And to Saturn (who is obviously related to Ed or something), this is easily the best album Jack White has made since Elephant! I’ve been listening to 5 on the 5 since it stood out when I went to see them a couple of times in 2006 and I’ve listened to the live version of that track occasionally over the last 2 years and now I’ve reignited my love with it thanks to the studio version so you’re wrong, the song is already 2 years old and I ain’t tired of it.

  12. Saturn Says:

    tommy,

    i’m sure you understand that there isn’t any right or wrong to this stuff, just opinions.

    i acknowledge your entitlement to your opinion. i’m glad you like the album, i’m glad you still like 5 on the 5. that makes one of us!

    and of course, I am also entitled to my own, no? this album just doesn’t get it up for me, and i really enjoy most of jack’s stuff, capiche?

    and as for my supposed relation to ed……*read*….*more*….*closely*. i really meant it when i said i’ve had problems with his reviews in the past.

    he DOES come off as being a little boorish, doesn’t he?

    just the same, the people in this thread who reacted to his review by calling him a jackass, an idiot, and a moron, come off as being far more juvenile in my eyes (while offering little of substance regarding the album, other than “you’re wrong, it’s great!”).

    good stuff…and enjoy your day.

  13. KingEd Says:

    Saturn, my brother, we missed you at Easter dinner:P

    TommyN, you are aware, aren’t you, that your response is almost like a spoof fanboy defense by a Jack White lover.

  14. Saturn Says:

    ha. fanboy?

    in fact, tommyN sounds like he might actaully be jack white’s mommy! i kid, tommy, i kid. and let me reiterate, i really am envious of your ability to enjoy this album. i hear a same-ishness of approach in jack’s songs that i’ve been hearing since “satan” that’s making me hard to enjoy it.

    and speaking of envy, ed, you and i both know that your old lady’s cooking is WAY better than mine. if i had my druthers, i’d’ve been over on sunday, watching the ‘nova game at your pad. but it just wasn’t to be. the girl wouldn’t have been able to handle watching my immense enjoyment of someone else’s cooking. better to stay home, fake my way through a few slices of dry ham, and ensure domestic tranquility (cue the “whip” sound).

    but seriously, i hope you realize that this dylan upstart is going to totally outclass you. he’s from ithaca. the iq up there is, like, through the roof. he doesn’t even need to use prepositions correctly and he *still* has better things to say than you, you boor!

  15. TommyN Says:

    I like the White Stripes and the Raconteurs but that’s as far as my love goes, I actually find Jack White to a bit of an arrogant tosser but I don’t let that get in the way of my musical enjoyment unlike some.
    Stop sucking each others cocks and get down off your ‘musical high horse’, I get the impression Ed’s ‘musical knowledge’ was exhausted by the end of this review.
    I don’t know how anyone can defend this, read it through again, whilst I can understand that you might agree with the general dislike of the album, the actual ‘review’ is a pathetic attempt at humour that comes off as nothing short of a ranting disgrace!

    I don’t listen to albums by bands I didn’t like first time round maybe you should do the same, unless you were planning to make yourself look like an ass all along!

    Fanboy?

    “TommyN, you are aware, aren’t you, that your response is almost like a spoof fanboy defense by a Jack White lover.”

    How original!

    I think if I was a fanboy I’d have been a little more venomous towards you but I feel genuinely dismayed that dumb folk like yourself can put out one of the first (totally biased) reviews of what I consider to be a top album and possibly stop someone else from enjoying it.

  16. 2000 Man Says:

    Tommy, you can’t say you don’t come across as a fanboy of the highest order. You’ve seen The Raconteurs more than once, which at this point means more than once on the same tour, right? Definitely a fanboy thing to do. You’ve been listening to a live version of a song previously unreleased, again a fanboy thing to do. At least admit you are biased and will let your fanboy love influence your opinion.

    Try doing a review strictly the way KingEd did. No preconceptions or listening to a song or two a few times to get familiar with it. Just one listen and your first impression. KingEd’s mood will come into play, his stress level and all kinds of things that subsequent listens may not have. I don’t see anyone else doing reviews like this. In fact, they all seem to wait to read what the fanboy’s with the early leaks think of it, and then expound on that. I be KingEd gets stuck eating his words in time on albums he pans and albums he picks as well. It’s just a first impression.

    I’ll listen to it next Tuesday. KingEd’s opinion of this won’t stop me from enjoying it. How low is your opinion of a Raconteurs fan if you think KingEd’s opinion during his first listen is that powerful on them? I hope I don’t end up liking the album and thinking their fans are idiots thanks to you.

  17. Sara Sherr Says:

    Okay, now I think this was written by Jim Slade. Or Terry Peach.

  18. Oh, robot Says:

    I found out about this record three days before the release date and became super pumped! Once I heard it though, I felt fooled. I listened to it about 20 more times and each time I found things I liked, but at the same time I was finding stuff that I didn’t.

    The title track caused instant discomfort. I stood tough and let the song play through. By the end of the album I started to think about the individual members of the band. Where are the Greenhornes anyway?

    I won’t say I hate this record. No…it’s too soon.
    For now I’ll give it a fair shake for it to sink in, but upon first listen I wasn’t taken.

    Not like I was when I heard DeStijl or If we can’t trust the Doctors.

    I think Jack White’s a genius though. I’ll pretty much buy what he’s sellin’ all the time.

    I played this for my wife and she asked me to stop. That never happens.

  19. J Says:

    guys, honestly!
    don’t you have better ways of discussing an album than wanking of on this site? or just…something else to do?

  20. Tommy N Says:

    2000 man – I happen to stay in the UK where they did a pre-album tour before they’d even released a record so I went along to see them in Glasgow where I was very impressed by the live show then I went to see them again in Glasgow when they toured the album, I don’t follow ANY bands around, I’m lucky enough to see most bands in my hometown, often more than once in the same year. Unlike the much larger US it’s easy for bands to tour here!

    I wasn’t referring to Raconteurs fans being put off by this but a casual listener might, it certainly isn’t going to encourage anyone to listen to what, in my opinion, will be considered as one of the best albums of 2008.

    Explain how I come across as a ‘fanboy’? Because I dislike people posting shitty reviews on bands that they obviously hated before they even listened to the record? I think it looks more like another Jack White hater rather than me being a fanboy for defending an artist who actually makes much better music than your average toss that’s around these days!

    There’s a reason why people don’t do reviews like this it gives a totally skewed opinion of an album, I’ve loved albums on my first listen and then quickly forgotten about them and vice versa.

  21. Tommy N Says:

    PS The live CD I listened to was bought after one of the gigs I went to, it was a relatively new thing so I gave it a try,you could pick up a CD of the gig when it was over, so ‘get that roon ye ya plum’!!

    BTW The fact that you can honestly say Ed had ‘no preconceptions’ about this album before listening to it speaks volumes about your reasoning skills. You sir are the idiot and I really hope you don’t like the album then we’ll both be happy.

  22. KingEd Says:

    Tommy N, does it not concern you that your wishing that a fellow fan will NOT like an album he’s about to buy might scare off other listeners who might fear they will not like it? Is it really a good thing if you’re the last man on earth left liking this new Raconteurs album? Even Dylan seems to have abandoned the cause. Remember him? He was going to write that ground-breaking review that combined Philosophy and Politics. Guess he actually spun this bad boy and thought better of it.

  23. eddie Says:

    I thought this review would be useful…maybe it is, but for reasons I haven’t discovered yet.
    The whole comparison thing for each song is a turnoff, sure there may be elements that harken back, but this effort is solid, and really doesn’t sound like anything that anyone else is trying these days. I don’t think it’s rehashed, or cheesy, or even some kind of retro ripoff. It’s worth the repeated listenings, lots of tones and huge accompinaments stand out, I’d say it’s a heavyweight, not overweight record, then again, there’s plenty of folks who only see it as look-how-much-work-it-takes-to-bore-me.
    Too bad.

  24. CK (London) Says:

    Blumming flip. Are you people listening to the same record as me?

    Consolers is a GREAT album. It’s one of the first I’ve heard in ages that doesn’t have a whole bunch of fillers propping it up. Big energy, lots of passion. That’s what it’s all about, for me.

    As for the review, I agree that we’re all entitled to an opinion. But it’s also nice to hear a relatively unbiased review so we can make up our own minds. Otherwise it all seems more of an ego trip than anything else. Of course, this is only my opinion… Ed.

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