Jack White, songwriter of The White Stripes turned solo musician, has always been capable of demonstrating one incredible trick: taking a mish-mash of genres, crushing them together into one song and still emitting a poppy bounce that can please even the most mainstream of music critics.
While White has consistently written guitar-driven, garage-rock hits, his newest album set out to accomplish something much larger than he had ever tried to do before:
A true cross-over hit album.
Beginning his career with The White Stripes, Jack White has always been a sort of musical enigma. Disguising his marriage to Meg White in the early 2000s as well as reviving the seminal blues-punk roots ofDetroit, Jack White has pushed the public’s eye past just the musical contents of his songs and into the musical pulse ofMichiganitself.
The early 2000s garage-rock revival was led by The Strokes and The Libertines, but bands like The White Stripes and The Hives proved that some of the best songs were written in Detroit and Switzerland, away from big-name cities like London and New York.
Jack White, since his earliest years, has always looked at his birth city as the largest inspiration for his lyrics as well as his sound. Songs like “The Big Three Killed My Baby” detail the auto industry inDetroitand the negative side-effects of quasi-politics.
And since the 2000s, White has been incapable of truly accomplishing this task.
When White released his first solo effort, “Blunderbuss,” he was still trying to put Detroit on the map.
Buoyed by garage-rock classics like “Love Interruption” and “Sixteen Saltines,” “Blunderbuss” proves once again that White is the most consistent garage-rock musician this turn of the century.
But still, does that mean that he can make Detroit an important rock city?
In a time where hardcore metal, dub-step and over produced pop reigns supreme, indie-hopefuls and Southern Arena rockers (think Kings of Leon), try to break the musical boundaries that mainstream radio has set forth in front of them, they usually end up adopting the sounds of their hometowns.
Detroit has always been a city with tumultuous musical roots: born in squalor, living quickly and dying young.
In even its earliest years, Detroit harbored huge blues talent. The early ‘20s had musicians like Son House and Mitch Jackson. Much likeChicagoat the time, they proved to be a northern safe haven for black southern musicians.
The ‘60s were filled with rebellious teen acts that were considered the precursor to the punk movement. Musicians like Iggy Pop and Wayne Kramer brought a punky edge to the blues city, literally creating an entire new genre of music long before it was popular.
After brief stints with soul music in the ‘70s, Detroit harbored a bevy of new musical acts in the twenty first century.
And the main band that led the revolt was The White Stripes.
People typically don’t see Detroit as a city with important musical roots.
They fail to realize all of the important acts that have come from there; The White Stripes, MC5, The Stooges, Smokey Robinson and nearly every Motown act to ever exist.
They fail to realize that Jack White is one of the most important and influential artists of the twenty first century, influencing future generations to play music that is engrained in a culture that isn’t like any others.
That isn’t cliché and all ready over done.
But most importantly, they fail to realize that Jack White is capable of taking his eclectic influences and mashing them up into pop-infused garage-rock that nearly everyone can enjoy.
And in his new album, “Blunderbuss,” White does just that.
He takes the youthful wonder he had growing up in Detroit, the old-age dirty guitar rock of the ‘60s and crafts something beautiful:
A musical representation of the motor-city itself.