Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: The Raconteurs, Consolers of the Lonely

When film companies don’t make a movie available for review before release it’s a sure sign the movie sucks so hard they don’t want the critics to spread the word before they can fleece the suckers for at least something over the opening weekend.  With this in mind I was dismayed when the Raconteurs released  Consolers of the Lonely within a week of announcing they were even working on a second album.  The CD was out before anyone had a chance to listen to it and I thought it was going to be terrible.  Wrong again. 

The Raconteurs are something of an all-star band composed of critical darlings Jack White (guitars, vocals, synthesizer) and Brendan Benson (vocals, guitar, keyboards) and indie stalwarts Jack Lawrence (bass, vocals) and Patrick Keeler (drums, percussion).  All-star bands are usually cesspits of ego and pomp but if any of that’s going on with The Raconteurs it doesn’t come through on Consolers of the Lonely.  This is a very good band composed of four guys who not only play well but play well together.  The range of different types of music they cover is impressive and all four of them make equal contributions to its success.  Hard to ask for much more than that.

The title track opens the album with four bars of a lurching blues-rock guitar riff that is met with a drum rhythm played at a slightly faster tempo that seems to clash with the guitar.  The new tempo drives the song until they bring the guitar riff back and meld the two together after a verse or two.  It’s an arresting and very effective way to begin an album and it serves as a good indication of what’s coming.  These guys are going to mix it up both in terms of the variety of music they play and in the inventive ways they juxtapose rhythms, riffs and musical styles.  “The Switch and the Spur” is a widescreen, big sky western of a song.  “Top Yourself” is a stanky blues driven by a killer rhythm shift.  “Many Shades of Black” is a horn-driven R&B number.  “Pull This Blanket Off” sounds something like Exile on Main St era Stones.  And so it goes, each track presents something new and the more you listen, you more nuance you hear in the carefully layered instruments and vocals. 

Not everything works, at least not to my ears.  “Salute Your Solution” is about three minutes of run of the mill rock with obnoxious caterwauling vocals.  It’s also the first single released from the album which would seem to indicate that although I really like their album I’m not really in tune with the band.

A raconteur is a skilled storyteller and if we equate telling stories with playing different types of music, The Raconteurs take their name seriously.  We are in the hands of a group of skilled musicians here who are intent on telling us a series of interesting and very different stories.  If you like inventive rock that is very well played, give Consolers of the Lonely some time. 


06/29/2008 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews | , ,

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