Thursday, April 1, 2010

CD Odyssey Disc 112: The Raconteurs

With the help of a bathroom review and a couple of completed miniatures, March was my most prolific month since I started doing this, with 17 posts.

That said, now it is April, and the CD Odyssey stops for no month - onward, gentle readers!

Disc 112 is...Broken Boy Soldiers

Artist: The Raconteurs

Year of Release: 2006

How I Came To Know It: I can't honestly remember, which is kind of embarassing given we're only talking about four years ago. Probably a combination of seeing the cool "Go-Kart" video for "Steady As She Goes", knowing Jack White was involved, and a good review from a friend. Chris D., maybe?

How It Stacks Up: The Raconteurs only have two albums this one, and 2008's "Consolers of the Lonely". I don't know the latter well enough to say, but I think "Broken Boy Soldiers" is the better record. Besides, it has a judicious ten songs, and "Consolers" is at the upper limit of acceptable, at fourteen.

Rating: 4 stars.

As I noted above, The Raconteurs are a side project of Jack White (of White Stripes fame). I think it is some kind of "super group" where the other members are also from established bands, but I honestly don't know the other guys by name.

Sometimes these super groups sound pretentious, but still awesome (like Them Crooked Vultures) and sometimes they just sound pretentious and overwrought (Queens of the Stone Age). They always sound pretentious. Fortunately, the Raconteurs are in the "awesome" subset.

This album has clear Jack White influences, but is even more in the spirit of 60s classic rock, and doesn't really have the punk edge that some White Stripes songs have.

I found myself thinking about the Beatles on more than one occasion while listening to this record, particularly on "Intimate Secretary" and "Yellow Sun". These songs sound heavily inspired by the stuff the Beatles did on "Rubber Soul" and "Revolver". However, where the Beatles don't always (or even often) engage me emotionally, this record does a much better job of hitting me in the hippocampus. I guess I'll take "Yellow Sun" over "Yellow Submarine" any day - with no apologies to Ringo.

Lyrically, the album is more clever than it is intelligent. Unlike some modern music, the Raconteurs do manage to have emotional resonance, but the writing doesn't quite come together into a strong narrative - more a collection of phrases. That is OK, but nothing really worth quoting.

Nevertheless, this record really grabbed me. There aren't any true duds, and many of the songs are really strong. At the same time, it didn't take me to a new level - it was just rock n' roll back to basics, well produced and played hard.

Best tracks: Hands, Broken Boy Soldier, Together, Level, Call It A Day


Chris said...

I will cop to having waxed poetic on this album, but I can't say whether or not it was in your presence or not.

Level is an excellent track in small part due to it's brevity. It makes you want to listen to it again right away.

Blue Veins is probably my favourite on the album. Somewhat reminiscent of Tea for One off Presence.

Joel C said...

Gotta agree with Chris - Blue Veins is my favourite as well.

I've also found Jack White's writing to be beatlesque at times - he knows how to pen a good melody.