Review ·

So, this is the lasting effect of the fast one Radiohead pulled with In Rainbows. A band thinks it can beat the Internet (and you, sinister downloader) by announcing the release of a new album a mere eight days before it hits shelves. It could have worked, too, if the album hadn't leaked the Friday before -- and if it weren't completely staid.

 

When the Raconteurs first dropped out of nowhere with their debut LP,  2006's Broken Boy Soldiers, their novelty was the fact that Jack White was playing in a new band (gasp!), and it had three other guys, including one who could actually play drums (gasp!!). The album is a hodgepodge of what had worked for the contributing members individually (Brendan Benson’s powerpop, White’s blues, and the Greenhornes’ garage rock) but sounded like the best tracks were raped and pillaged from tossed-off Let It Be B-sides.

 

With Consolers of the Lonely, the Raconteurs are still content to play record-collection plunderers, but instead of ripping what they can from the '60s, they spend much of the album as twenty-first-century stand-ins for Grand Funk Railroad, Blue Oyster Cult and Three Dog Night, playing big, limp, calculated rock 'n’ roll.

 

Brokey Boy Soldiers' greatest strength was how all four members were content to let themselves to disappear into the sonic fabric. Consolers of the Lonely, however, serves largely as a showcase for White -- an acknowledgment of the fact that he’s the real reason anyone bought their first album. White dominates on the flat “You Don’t Understand Me,” the Blue Oyster Cult B-side “Hold Up,” “Top Yourself,” the merely okay “Five on the Five,” and the downright awful “Carolina Drama,” a slow march to irrelevance.

 

Benson does his best to keep up with his more talented counterpart, delivering some the album’s more tolerable moments: the country-baiting “Old Enough,” the lounge performance-esque “The Switch and the Spur,” and album highlight “Attention.” But he is clearly second fiddle here. 

 

Also worth noting is the fact that Patrick Keeler (drums) and Jack Lawrence (bass) are what give the band its lifeblood. Without these two, Benson and White would be lost. Their propulsive rhythm single-handedly saves first single “Salute Your Solution” from White and Benson’s lazy lyrical showdown.

 

This push-and-pull dynamic for control of the band may be all in my head, but when you line up Consolers of the Lonely and Broken Boy Soldiers, there’s a noticeable difference. On the latter, White is merely a role player, a member of the band. On the former, he is the main draw, with his fingerprints on nearly every chorus and melody, leaving the rest of the band as nothing more than backups.

 

I’m sure the Raconteurs feel they’ve made some moral victory by releasing their album with a short lead time, no marketing, and forbidding anyone in the press to have an advance listen -- trying to put the music first. But that is misleading, considering the method they’ve chosen here is solely to maximize profits.

 

They’ve taken the novel Radiohead approach and subverted it. Instead of putting an emphasis on fan participation in the release of the album, by allowing fans to decide how much to pay, the Raconteurs put an emphasis on fan’s monetary participation in the release of the album. They don’t want to get music to the fans quickly or cheaply. They want to get music, in the matter of a week, to fans willing to buy their albums for $16 a pop.

 

Too bad Consolers of the Lonely isn’t worth it. 

 

***

Band: http://www.theraconteurs.com

Label: http://www.warnerbrosrecords.com

Audio:  http://www.myspace.com/theraconteurs

  • Consoler Of The Lonely
  • Salute Your Solution
  • You Don't Understand Me
  • Old Enough
  • The Switch And The Spur
  • Hold Up
  • Top Yourself
  • Many Shades Of Black
  • Five On The Five
  • Attention
  • Pull This Blanket Off
  • Rich Kid Blues
  • These Stones Will Shout
  • Carolina Drama
Neon Neon - Stainless Style The Chapin Sisters Lake Bottom
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"A band thinks it can beat the internet..." really?

this whole review belongs in parenthesis (gasp!)

/site_media/uploads/images/users/prefix/no-user-pic.gif sfs83

Andrew Winistorfer, you're a wanker my friend. I don't even particularly love this album, but your review is a Pitchfork Media wannabe.

DP1978

"Limp, calculated rock'n roll"?

The fact that you refer to Five to the Five as "merely okay" tells me you just don't get it. You were the wrong person to review this album, and that's that. Seeing the missteps a band takes is important, but so is the ability to recognize an album's strengths.

Nick!

woah folks. - Anyway, I can see his sentiment. I reviewed the first Raconteurs record, and I feel like this is the same ol' humdrum crap they did the first time around. This supergroup is a giant crapfest.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/Jboh213/n38409054_33275787_4276.jpg jboh

I'm discarding all of your opinions as you're too ignorant (and seemingly biased against Jack White [GASP!!]) to understand what Rolling Stone did. Carolina Drama is the highlight of this album and one of the best songs to be put out this decade.

It's worthy of Dylan, but you probably don't like any of his stuff either.

Steven

Actually, I'm quite fond of Dylan, namely his mid-60s catalog (gasp!).

And I'm not biased against Jack White (I'm fairly convinced that De Stijl and White Blood Cells are perfect), it's just that since he broke big, he's been mailing it in. Rolling Stone desperately wants a new rock icon, because, after all, that's how they sell magazines. Jack White is a good songwriter, he's just not great. Icky Thump? Come on.

Carolina Drama is perhaps one of the most boring songs I've heard in a long time. A murder mystery involving a milk man? Come on.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/thestorfer/1202393jpeg.jpeg andross

"...and one of the best songs to be put out this decade."

for real dude...?

Now I gotta hear this.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/Al/batmulletjpg.jpg Al

Andrew Winistorfer's last comment is much more insightful than his review.

It's true that Jack White hasn't delivered the same sauce since Cells and De Stijl; be it with the White Stripes or Raconteurs.

With this said, neither Broken Boy Soldiers or Consolers of the Lonely came without its perks. The intro and verse of "You don't understand me" was excellent and deserved more recognition than that the song was "flat". The rest of the review was the same, highlighting faults with no reference to strengths.

All in all, I wish more time had been spent discussing the songs rather than bitching about the way the album was released.

Tyler

This review is the product of someone who overvalues the way a band releases an album and undervalues pure good sound. Now I wont debate the fact that you hated Carolina Drama, my personal favorite song on the album, but moreso the fact that you so frequently moaned about how they didn't allow fans to participate like radiohead did. If that has anything to do with you're rating, you've clearly missed the mark sir.

Dan

I don't think Andrew's point was that the way Raconteurs released the album made the album bad. More that when an album is as lackluster as he thinks it is (I can't comment on that -- I haven't heard the album, nor do I have any interest in hearing it), it's extra sad that the band seems to be taking advantage of their fans in the way they're marketing it.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/narfish/HeadbangSquare.jpg narfish

just listened thru and its just sortof weak, and boring, and not very memorable at all, or maybe ive given up on rock and roll

joe

they are definitely not trying to take advantage of their fans. they did try to beat the internet though. and the album is good. nothing special but it's got some great moments.

bob

As a fan, I don't feel taken advantage of. The release style/timing makes no difference, I've purchased every Jack White CD via retail. I want him to keep making more music. That said, this is my least favorite Jack White CD to date. Broken Boy Soldiers and every White Stripes CD has been better.

Nick

I think this album is weak all round. Nothing Gutsy about the guitars as is present in the last album and all White Stripes albums. It feels as though Jack has run out of things to say, as the lyrics to me just sound like a jock trying to piece together a sentence. It doesn't feel like he wants to make good music anymore, but rather just rake the cash in. Worse than Icky Thump, and a huge step back from Broken Boy Soldiers. I was a Jack White fan.

Chris

What's the term? Haters? Just because a band is popular or well known, doesn't mean they suck. This record didn't deserve this review. You may not like it, but you can't deny it. It's clever, unique, different whatever. It's certainly worth more attention than this reviewer gave it. Sounds to me like your mind was made up before the first note played. Bad form, for a "professional".

mang

banjo

/site_media/uploads/images/users/acb/01bigblacktomb.jpg acb

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