Jack White Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016

The acoustic picks of classic songs from Jack White and his bands The White Stripes and The Raconteurs are featured on the new album, Jack White Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016, released earlier this month. The twenty-six tracks featured on the two-disc album take us through moments of their recording history; beginning with the 1998 “Sugar Never Tasted So Good” song that was written on the porch of Jack’s parent’s home.

Jack and Meg White are the singers, songwriters and musicians in The White Stripes, a rock band formed in Detroit, Michigan. The new acoustic album has a song from their 2000 album De Stijl called “I’m Bound to Pack It Up” that showcases an awesome command of the electric violin. “We Are Going to Be Friends” from the 2001 White Blood Cells album is a sweet song about a schoolyard friendship with a catchy picking pattern. Some songs from their 2003 album Elephant were included in the new album as well as a song Jack White created later that year called “Never Far Away” for the movie Cold Mountain.

Songs from the 2005 album Get Behind Me Satan are in the album including “As Ugly As I Seem” in which Meg White plays hand drums. “Love Is The Truth” is a lesser known song that was created for a Coca-Cola commercial in 2006 and has made its way into the album along with songs from the 2007 Icky Thump album like “Honey, We Can’t Afford to Look This Cheap” inspired by the prominent music scene in Nashville, TN where Jack was living at the time. “Carolina Drama” and “Top Yourself” from The Raconteurs album Consolers of the Lonely have their own acoustic and bluegrass interpretations too.

In 2012 Jack White’s song “Love Interruption” featuring Ruby Amanfu appeared on the GRAMMY nominated album Blunderbuss, Jack’s debut solo album. That track and a number of others from that album were added in, like “On and on and on” whose lyrics are not present until nearly a minute into the song and the title track which got its name from a 17th century European firearm. “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy” is also on the album, as is “I Guess I Should Go to Sleep” featuring Pokey Lafarge and the South City Three band. “Machine Gun Silhouette” is in the mix too but it came from the album Love Interruption and was apparently composed by emails Jack received from his visual art collaborator whom he’s never met.

White’s 2014 album Lazaretto contributed a few songs to the new album including “Want and Able”, “Entitlement” and “Just One Drink”. “City Lights” is the previously unreleased track that was actually written and recorded 10 years prior during the Get Behind Me Satan recording sessions. It was finished in 2016 and was included as part of this acoustic set. It has all come back full circle in Acoustic Recordings which is exemplary of the rock and blues roots that Jack White has possessed since the beginning whether on his own projects or in his other endeavors. There’s no denying Jack White is a true artist through and through.

Grouplove – Big Mess

I am flooded with nostalgia when I hear Grouplove songs. It is one of those bands that brings back happy memories from when I was a freshman or sophomore in college, the year they released their self-titled EP and later their album Never Trust a Happy Song. A few songs you may recognize from that album are “Colours”, “Tongue Tied” and “Itchin’ on a Photograph” which I would hear on the radio and became part of the musical backdrop to my summer breaks.

Spreading Rumours was released a couple of years later with songs like “Ways To Go”, “I’m With You” and “Shark Attack”. I remember blasting these tunes in the car with my friends, windows down and singing out loud. I went to their concert at Red Butte Garden in Salt Lake City a couple of years ago and saw for myself their electric energy on stage. So maybe I’m a little bias but there’s no doubt their multitude of fans agree.

grouplove

Grouplove’s new album Big Mess makes me feel like I’m catching up with an old friend because of its familiar vocals and infectious hooks. The album’s opening song is called “Welcome to Your Life” which from the get go kicks things off with an uplifting beat. The lyrics to this song are about embracing the big mess life can be and knowing you can make a change if you want to “make it your best year.” As we’re settling into the new school year it’s a good reminder to make the most of it.

Their alternative rock sound really shows on the song “Traumatized” because it starts off with an energizing drum beat and a nice jolt of electric guitar. The vocals on this track draw you in because of its raw and powerful emotion. You’ll easily get the catchy chorus stuck in your head. The song takes a dip in tempo for emphasis then rages on with the guitar leading the way to pick it back up at the end. “Good Morning” in contrast has more of a synthpop sound. It’s a feel good dance song that introduces the guitar halfway through and has a really cheerful melody. It would fit right into some of the many festival scenes that they have played like Coachella or Lollapalooza.

Grouplove is on the Big Mess World Tour and are performing at The Complex 536 W. 100 S. Salt Lake City on October 17th, doors open at 7 pm. http://www.thecomplexslc.com/event-1178.htm

Tegan and Sara – Love You to Death

Tegan and Sara are identical twin sisters from Alberta, Canada who were once just teenage girls creating demo tapes in their high school’s recording studio. They created their first professional demo the year they graduated high school after being awarded free studio time in a Garage Warz band competition in Calgary. Tegan and Sara released their first album Under Feet Like Ours independently in 1999 before signing with Neil Young’s Vapor Records.

As they continued making music they gained more and more recognition. The White Stripes covered their song “Walking with a Ghost” from their 2004 album So Jealous. Their 2007 album The Con was co-produced by Jason McGerr of Death Cab for Cutie and Matt Sharp of Weezer. Two years later their album Sainthood sold 24,000 copies its first week and in 2012 Closer sold 49,000 copies its first week reaching number three on the Billboard’s Top 200 Albums.

This year they released their new record Love You to Death that is an 80s style pop album with a modern edge and catchy lyrics. Their featured single is called “Boyfriend” about being best friends with a straight girl, catching feelings and not wanting to keep it a secret anymore. Tegan and Sara are both openly lesbian and have made use of the spotlight to become prominent advocates politically and socially for the LGBT community. In 2014 they were even honored in the Outstanding Music Artist category at the 25th GLAAD Media Awards.

Being an indie pop band they have a more carefree vibe, even in a song like “That Girl” about things getting tough and not being enough there is still a sense of positivity. This type of music has a niche audience because of its throwback style and its glam pop feel. Tegan and Sara’s own fashion sense is a bit androgynous and on the album cover their faces are obscured but their dark short hair gives them a 90s Winona Ryder look except for the bright, bold eye makeup which is seemingly an homage to artists like Boy George or David Bowie.

The song “Faint of Heart” has Madonna-esque vocals and the quintessential 80s hand clap that you might be familiar with. In the music video for this song, kids are at a lip sync battle wearing outfits reminiscent of Prince, Madonna, Michael Jackson and Grace Jones. This album pays tribute to the eccentric and talented artists who have paved the way and are an inspiration to the young people who admire their work.

Tegan and Sara are on the Fall 2016 Tour and will perform at In The Venue 219 S. 600 W. Salt Lake City 84101 on September 22 at 6:30 pm.

https://www.saltlakecityconcerts.net/eventx/tegan-sara/

Claiming Neptune: In Times of Change

Everything I’ve learned about the band Claiming Neptune so far says “laid back”. I got this vibe as soon as I read their bio page and it started with, “We like to play rock n roll. We’re also from the planet Earth…the Austin, Texas part of it.” It shows they have a good sense of humor and are, well, down to Earth. It’s nice to see a band that is very straightforward and simple in their approach to making music. However the band is full of interesting characters judging by the little blurbs I read with some of their interests.

Their frontwoman is Lisa Borjon whose style is a product of her parent’s musical influences from the 80s and 90s as well as her brother’s classic rock albums. Derrick Yeomon, a lover of the oldies but goodies of music, and Robert Jenkins, a fan of hip hop and rock alike, both play guitar. Joshua Wuensche plays the drums, which he learned to play around the age of 16. Adam Barone, who once spent nine months traveling the Americas by motorcycle, plays bass and keyboard.

Claiming Neptune band pic

They released an album this year called In Times of Change which features a song called “Apparition”. This track is a fan favorite, with its steady beat and soothing vocals. It is about a woman who has become engrossed in a relationship to the point it’s all she knows and he is all she wants. Yet because of the manipulation she needs to let him go and focus on her own happiness.

But I won’t play these games no more
It’s time to throw you out and close that door
I see right through your apparition
From these chains I will break free
Consider me part of your collection
But it’s something that won’t change me
2X Your love is what I needed

 

The time has come for me to end it
So me and all my girls will have some fun
Sip a little; dance some more til the night is done
Now that I know better for myself
I won’t change a thing for anyone else
Cause I won’t play these games no more
Otherwise I’ll throw you out, and close that door!

In another of their popular songs called “Happening Now” we get some more background info about why she had to let this guy go. Apparently there was another lady in the mix.

And even though I don’t know her
It’s like I know her
Because you can’t forget her
Why can’t you just forget her?
Won’t you just forget her?

I feel like I’m reading someone’s diary that is going through a rocky relationship. There is an honesty and intimacy about them that I like. The album is definitely not a ruckus of guitar and drums but instead a mellow rhythm and dreamy tone. It reminds me of an acoustic rock version of Lana Del Rey and it also feels like it would fit right into the soundtrack of a coming of age movie starring Michael Cera. Those are my two cents, if it sounds like it’s up your alley then check out their album In Times of Change on SoundCloud or iTunes.

Jocelyn and Chris Arndt: Edges

If you’re like me you like music with soulful and gritty vocals backed by classic rock-inspired guitar and a thumping drum beat. This is just some of what you’ll get when you listen to the New York based rock-duo that are Jocelyn and Chris Arndt. With so many shows under their belt from The Hard Rock in Pittsburgh and Myrtle Beach, Rockwood Music Hall in New York, to The Viper Room in Hollywood these siblings are no strangers to the live stage.

At first listen their new album Edges has a contagiously fervent passion and bluesy-rock feel. The first song off the record is called “Shame” and it really demonstrates their raw energy. I love it for its relatable subject matter too as is exemplified in these lyrics:

“I used to think you understood,
We used to think alike
But now you’ve traded
sweet for bitter, guts for glitter,
Safe instead of right

And was she worth it?
How happy are you now?
Do you think about the night you lost me,
And do you wonder how?”

This is the perfect breakup song, the type of song you blast in your car and sing along to when you’re moving on from someone who did you wrong. There’s also something badass about a strong female lead.

“Ooh, I lost your number,
Ooh, you lost my trust,
I see the ashes in your eyes,
You turned our love to dust

But now I’ve got a story,
Now I’ve got a song
And music makes you
miss me more with every chord
You’ll know you’ve done me wrong”

Another song I enjoyed is called “Cinderella” because it is such a realist way of seeing love; It’s not a thing that just happens one night when we lose our glass slipper. Her empowering attitude is apparent when she sings, “So I’m checking myself out of fantasy / I gotta fight for what’s ahead of me.”

While “we can’t all be Cinderella”, I guess it’s true what they say, you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your handsome prince.

The latest single is “Where’s the Rain” and the band is now on tour in various cities across the country this month including DC, Nashville and Las Vegas. Hopefully we’ll get to see them live in Salt Lake City if they decide to take a detour! Fingers crossed.

Westward: The Deadly Rapture of Space

The Deadly Rapture of Space is the first album released by a band that goes by the name of Westward. Studied and experienced musicians in their own right, the band was created by some of our own Salt Lake City locals: Andrew Marshall as lead vocals and guitar, Karl Grimm on bass and Matt Morrison on drums.

The intro to the title track is the static sound of astronauts talking to each other over a radio intercom and an announcer saying, “Most of the world waited 100 miles below, the crew had completed final preparations, the cabin was depressurized and the hatch open.” It immediately sets up the space odyssey that you are about to take part in. I imagined the guitar and drums breaking in as soon as they leave the atmosphere and enter the dark depths of space.

I can tell by the vibrato of the song “Drive’m” that their live shows are not something to miss. The chanting of the chorus, the electric guitar and the way Marshall delivers the lyrics sounds like a very theatrical and lively performance.

To give you an idea of the inspiration behind Westward’s sound, their musical influences are rock artists like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Jack White. Their fans have coined the term “cowboy space rock” to fondly describe their music and I can hear why. I felt like I was being transported to a distant rock n’ roll western with awesome instrumentals and sexy vocals. Case in point, listen to my favorite song on the album called “When I Give You Control”.

The guys have been working over the last three years to make a name for themselves, opening for various bands in different states and even went on their own 2015 Deadly Tour. Westward has played gigs at venues like the Utah Arts Festival, the Sundance Film Festival’s Indie Lounge and The House of Blues in Las Vegas.

They are now working on new material as they go on the 2016 West Coast Tour. If you want to check them out live they will be making a stop in Salt Lake City on Saturday August 6, 2016 at The Urban Lounge 241 S. 500 E. 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm.

Digisaurus: No More Room for Love

In 2015 artist and producer James Allison collaborated with local Ohio musicians and visual artists to start a project called Digisaurus, a futuristic synthpop and rock band with funk and R&B influences. Allison dove in head first when he decided to sell his house, shut down his recording studio and quit his job to go on the Solo Spring Tour of 2016. With great risk comes great reward and now after the tour’s successful completion, he is doing a summer tour across various cities in the U.S. with shows booked through the fall.

The opening title track on the debut EP, No More Room for Love, begins with a robotic voice that asks, “how am I going to get over this?”. The song suggests the attitude of someone who has been so heartbroken they can’t bring themselves to love again so instead they are out to “get some” in an attempt to get over their heartache. From there it jumps right into a self-described “60’s pop to modern day funk, while dealing with the dismissal of love and conflict within the human psyche.” If the record title and bleeding heart cover art weren’t enough to clue you in, the theme deals with the turmoils of love.

Their first single, “Make a Move”, describes the dynamics of the relationship. It’s a funky tune with the singers falsetto woven in, “Finally I’ve found some room to breathe / Wrapped around your finger.” Although the lyrics aren’t necessarily the clearest indication of what’s at play it denotes that he is infatuated with this person. A super cool baritone voice comes in at the bridge saying, “he is feeling smooth”, emphasizing just how suave this person makes him feel.

Their latest single, “Without Me”, starts off with a contagious guitar riff and draws you in with a beat that makes you want to dance. The song’s lyrics are telling of a tug of war taking place in the singer’s head as he tries to make sense of his relationship.

“I’ve been told common tales about me / I’m not sure where they’re coming from / I’ve been told stranger things corrupt me / I don’t know what they’re coming for.” I get the sense in this verse that he is feeling bitter over the gossip he hears about himself because he knows he tried to make the relationship work.

“Without me / the future pounds / and you can’t bring yourself to take it back.” This verse sounds like he was taken for granted and the person now misses him but can’t admit it. Then again, I may be reading into it just a little bit. The lyrics are definitely up for interpretation but the instrumentals and vocals are a solid combination.

The end of the record winds down to a slower pace and dreamy groove. “Them fools ain’t got nothin’ on me / I’m the baddest human being.” He is really feeling himself in this song even if I’m not totally sure what he is getting at. Whatever the case, Digisaurus is paving their way across the country to get their futuristic vibes heard from coffee shops to rock venues. You can see them live in Salt Lake City on August 15-16 at the Dawg Pound.