White Blood Cells

I’ve been reading praise about the Detroit-based duo the White Stripes in alternative publications for the last few months and heard tell of their awesome live shows; but since I was unable to find the CD in Chico (Melody did have the vinyl), it took a little while to hear this excellent album of raw, garage rock that recalls a mix of pure Sabbath, Royal Trux and Railroad Jerk (with strong blues and country influences).

Pale siblings Jack White (vocals, guitar, piano) and his sister Meg (drums, vocals)—who physically resemble Edward Scissorhands and Christina Ricci—play with unabashed enthusiasm for artsy cockrock. Most lyrics address a distant lover and deal with some sense of loss or religion. As J. White sings in “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground": “Any man with a microphone can tell you what he loves/ and you know why you love if you’re thinking of the Holy Ghost.”

But the best thing about this dynamic duo is how full a sound they wring from a lo-fi, guitar/drum combo and on-key caterwauling (Meg beats the hell of her drums, and Jack often sounds like a ‘70s No Wave singer). The slowest song ("We’re Going To Be Friends") sounds like a Ray Davies acoustic outtake.

Undoubtedly one of the best rock albums of the year, solid from start to finish—and (ironically) dedicated to Loretta Lynn.