Tag Archives: The White Stripes

Mid-August 2016 New Song Round-Up

As we slowly exit Summer and near the holiday (silly) season, a band’s thoughts turn to new albums. What better way to prep the world by dropping a single on the unexpecting masses? After radio died but before we got music streaming services it wasn’t always super-easy for me to find these freshly released tracks. But now, every Friday Spotify curates them all for me! I’m sure no payola is involved…

Anyway, I never know what to do about these sort of things when it comes to the blog. I mean, I can’t possibly write 500 words on this new Green Day single. Luckily, I can just shamelessly copy another (some might even argue better) blogger’s format and apply them to this loose collection of songs.

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The Defending Axl Rose Mid-August 2016 New Song Round-Up

“Bang Bang” by Green Day: As soon as I hit play and heard the faux news broadcast, I knew we were in trouble. The intro reeks of trying too hard, and as we all know trying is pretty much the least punk thing one can do. That said, once the song starts “Bang Bang” isn’t a complete disaster. But all the talk of “World War 0” and “celebrity models” feels like the sort of empty criticism an 8th-grader would make about the current crop of senseless shootings. Somebody wake me up when September ends.

 

“City Lights” by The White Stripes: Oh, what a happy boy I was when I saw that there was a brand new White Stripes song on Spotify! Then I saw that it was “Previously Unreleased.” Well, no bother…even if Jack and Meg didn’t get back together at least I would get to hear a new song. Then I hit play and the soft, acoustic guitar ballad and I knew that I wasn’t going to get a new White Stripes song. This is a new Jack White solo track. Sure, maybe Meg is politely shaking maracas or whatever in the background, but this is about as far from an “Icky Thump” or “Seven Nation Army” as one can get. And while variety is the spice of life, I was really hoping for something a bit more explosive. “City Lights” isn’t terrible, it’s a great (albeit sleepy) track from Jack White.

 

“Put Your Hands Up” by The Struts: I’ve been hearing a lot of really good things about The Struts. There’s been many comparisons between them and The Darkness, one of my favorite bands. So when I saw that they had a new single I didn’t hesitate. “Put Your Hands Up” is a good rock song that could have been great with a slightly catchier chorus (though they do get points for rhyming “vibration” and “medication”). Still, the band has plenty of energy (and cowbell) to convince me that I need to give them a serious listen.

 

“Punks In A Disco Bar” by Beach Slang: Ten seconds in and I’m hooked. I’m so in the bag for this band, that I guess nobody should be surprised that I dig this song. But boy, do I dig this song. That vicious, angular guitar riff is fantastic. Beach Slang pack so much intensity into “Punks In A Disco Bar” that the track’s sub-three minute runtime doesn’t even feel too short. I really hope that this song isn’t some kind of leftover from last year’s record and that there’s a new one on the horizon. I missed seeing these guys back in April when my son was born, I really want them to hop on the touring circuit again so I can see them. Brilliant 10/10.

 

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I Made Jack White’s Guacamole Because…Rock ‘n Roll!!!

When I first heard “Fell In Love With A Girl” way back in 2002, I had no idea that people would still be talking about Jack White in 2015. I liked the song well enough, but I wrongly predicted that White’s career (and impact on the music industry) would be as lengthy as The White Stripes breakthrough hit. I was thoroughly puzzled by White initially. I remember seeing White creepily perform “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” on Saturday Night Live and writing The White Stripes off completely. Look, we at Defending Axl Rose can’t all be right 100% of the time. Sometimes things slip by me. And don’t forget, when The White Stripes came on the scene there was a lot of strange rumors about Meg being Jack’s wife-sister…so you can’t blame me for dismissing them.

I quickly corrected my view of The White Stripes when the band released ELEPHANT in 2003. When  Mojo magazine declared it the band’s “British” album, I quickly went out and bought it on CD and red-and-white colored vinyl. That’s right, I dropped $45 on the album before I’d even heard “Seven Nation Army.” ELEPHANT was rousing, epic rock album that blew me away and immediately made me a fan and follower of White. I still think he’s weird (sometimes a little too much for his own good), but he’s the closest thing my generation has to a true rock god.

Oh my God, do a Google image search for "Jack White Guac."

Oh my God, stop reading and go do a Google image search for “Jack White Guac.” Seriously.

I’m still heartbroken that The White Stripes are no more, if you want to know the truth. I like The Raconteurs and love The Dead Weather, but I miss those glory days of red-and-white albums. White’s solo records haven’t really done much for me, but to tell the truth I’ve never really given them much of listen. White has given me so much over the years, I really owe it to him to sit down someday and study both BLUNDERBUSS and LAZARETTO in depth before writing them completely off.

Anyway, like the rest of you, I have been breathlessly following Guacamole-Gate, the dip-themed scandal that has embroiled Jack White these past few weeks. For those of you living under a rock, here are the basics: Jack White played a concert at the University of Oklahoma earlier this month. The school’s newspaper used the Freedom of Information Act to acquire the contracts involved with the concert. These documents were published in the school paper and revealed the amount of money the school paid to have White perform, as well as White’s tour rider. While I was a bit surprised it only cost the school $80,000 to have Jack White perform, the press (small and large) have jumped on the tour rider which included a recipe for Jack’s guacamole.

Ah, tour riders. Do these things ever not make an artist look crazier than a bag of cats? The purpose of tour riders is to ensure that bands and their staff are comfortable while setting up and waiting to perform  a gig. Let’s face it: being a traveling musician is not fun and glamorous. Can you imagine sharing one bathroom with everyone in Metallica? Or splitting a meal with Wolfgang Van Halen*?  Then there’s the small army needed to setup and tear down even the most modest of stages. Tour riders ensure that these hardworking folks get all the brown M&M’s they so desperately need.

Speaking of brown M&M’s, the most famous rider in all of rock history is the Van Halen rider that specified that the band have a large dish of only the brown colored candies. This demand made the band  poster children for rock excess, but over the years Eddie Van Halen has claimed that his odd request was made out of safety! According to Eddie, the band used this request to judge how compliant venues were with all of their requests. If the brown M&M’s weren’t done right, the band reasoned, then maybe the super dangerous lighting rigs weren’t done correctly either. I hate to side with Eddie (because agreeing with him stokes his ego) but the dude has a point.

Jack White’s rider requested that the venue make a bowl of homemade guacamole and included details instructions on how to make it. These instructions are Van Halen-specific, going so far as to tell venues what sort of knife to use on the avocados (a butter knife, presumably to avoid smooshing the soft fruit). The recipe even includes instructs venues to use the avocado pits and lime juice to prevent the guacamole from browning.

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“Subject to budget and advance” naturally…

When the rider hit the interWebz, the music world was shaken to the core. So much ink was spilled over this non-story that earlier this week, Jack White issued a long, semi-rambling statement about this rider. Essentially, he was sick of being asked about the whole affair and chastised the student reports for making something out of nothing. White’s management group issued a statement saying that White and their other artists would be boycotting the University of Oklahoma because of this incident. Of course, White had nothing to do with that particular decision. He even went so far as to say that he’d forgiven the student reporters and holds no ill will towards Oklahoma.

For such a strange guy, White’s response to the so-called scandal was surprisingly down-to-earth. The only disappointing part of White’s statement, in my opinion, was the revelation that the guacamole recipe wasn’t actually Jack’s:

“Anything on the rider is for the band and the crew. This “guacamole recipe” is my hilarious tour managers inside joke with the local promoters, it’s his recipe, not mine. It’s just something to break up the boredom, seeing who can make it best. Though I wouldn’t know because I’ve never had it. I can’t even make kool aid let alone cook any real food enough to have a “recipe.” sorry, I don’t have that talent.”

Great. So first The White Stripes break up forever, and then I find out Jack White can’t even make the most basic of party dips. What’s next, Bono will never be able to play guitar again? I know I’ll never be a musical genius like Jack White, but if I realized that if I could make this guacamole then there would be one area where I’d have him beat! Thus, I decided to use the recipe to make his manager’s dip. I went to the store and acquired the ingredients necessary for this magical rock ‘n roll creation. Then I rolled up my sleeves, put on some White Stripes, and got to work.

When you follow the recipe, this what you end up with:

So how was it? Well, if you follow the directions to the letter, you end up with something less like a dip and more like avocado salad.

Sorry, Jack. That isn't how I like my guacamole.

Sorry, Jack. That isn’t how I like my guacamole.

I’ll be honest, I fully intended on following the recipe to the letter, but I couldn’t abide such hippy-dippy gauc. Also, I’m really lazy. It was so much easier to just shove everything into my food processor.So that’s what I did. The results, while not 100% Jack White approved, was still pretty stellar.

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The serrano peppers added just the right amount of heat. I love spicy foods and this dip didn’t let me down. I would like to add that if you plan on making this dip, be sure to have a hungry crew of guitar techs coming over–the recipe yielded a ton of guacamole.

Delicious!

Delicious!

 

*I bet you thought I’d gotten over making fun of Wolfgang. You thought wrong.

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The Hives Are Back With LEX HIVES

Back in the early 2000’s there seemed to be a glut of “The” bands.  You couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing from The Vines, The White Stripes, The Strokes, or The Hives.  These bands were all part of something that was called the “Garage Revival” by some and at the time I found it a bit annoying, to be honest (the “The” part, not the music).  Anyway, the parade of garage rock bands ended and rock went back to the underground.  Thinking about it still kinda bums me out.  I wish the Garage Revival of the early 00’s hadn’t been a fad; I wish the kids today really loved down-and-dirty rock.  But here we are, a decade later, and all that’s left are the memories.  The Vines are still kicking around, but it took them an extra year to release their latest album FUTURE PRIMITIVE here in the States (and no one bought it). The White Stripes have disbanded, crushed by the sheer brilliance and professional-ADD of Jack White and crippled by Meg’s stage fright.  The Strokes recently got back together and cobbled together a new album, but I’m afraid they’re doing their best work in their solo albums at this juncture.

So that just leaves The Hives.

I remember thinking when  VENI VIDI VICIOUS was first released that of all the “The” bands, The Hives were the weakest.  Don’t get me wrong,  I really liked “Hate To Say I Told You So,” but I just didn’t see any future for their aggressive brand of Swedish garage punk.  And while VENI VIDI VICIOUS has some good moments (“Die, All Right!”, “Main Offender,” and the cover of “Find Another Girl”) I wasn’t bowed over by it.  I thought we’d never hear from them again.  In fact, to show you just how wrongheaded I was at the time (or just how much bands can surprise you)  of all the groups I’ve just listed, I thought The Vines were going to have the biggest career (yes, even bigger than The White Stripes).

Then in 2004 I was listening to Little Stevens Underground Garage radio program (while at work) and he dropped “Abra Cadaver” and “Dead Quote Olympics” upon my unsuspecting brain.  That year The Hives released TYRANNOSAURUS HIVES, which I still consider to this day to be the band’s best album.  It was just like VENI VIDI VICIOUS but tight and more refined.  It was weird, but less-European (no funny foreign-languages in the song titles).  The longest song on that record is the single “Walk Idiot Walk” which just barely manages to clock in at 3:31.  I love pretty much everything about TYRANNOSAURUS HIVES all the way down to the super ridiculous bolo ties the band sports on the album cover.

ROAR!

The Hives forumla is simple, but effective: guitar hook, stomping drum beat, shouty vocals, clap-clap.

The band strayed a bit from that formula with their next release, the slightly gloomy THE BLACK AND WHITE ALBUM.  I think TBAWA is pretty good record and there are a lot of “classic Hives” elements on it (the single “Tick Tick Boom” and “Try It Again”) but the band also branched out into some interesting new directions with mixed results.  They had a bunch of new producers (including most famously Pharrell Williams of The Neptunes-fame) which resulted in an overall feel that was slightly less-than Hives.   Don’t get me wrong,  I think songs like “T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S.” and “Puppet On A String” are really interesting but I missed the basic “shouty-shouty-handclap” of TYRANNOSAURUS HIVES.  TBAWA came out in 2007 and thanks to “Tick Tick Boom” The Hives were back in the spotlight (well, the song appeared not on the radio so much as in commercials and films).  I never forgot about The Hives but I had no idea that they were releasing a new album until my enlightened fellow rock-nerd blogganaire over at LP on 45 wrote about how he was seeing the band live (in support of a NEW album!). 

The Hives, looking dapper as always.

So, with the blind faith only a true fan can have…I pre-ordered LEX HIVES and two days later it was released.  So how does it stack up to the rest of The Hives oeuvre? I think LEX HIVES is a “return to form” album.  I dont’ think THE BLACK AND WHITE ALBUM was a mistake, but I think the band decided to move back more to the straight-out garage punk sound that made them famous. Some of the reviews I’ve read are a bit negative, saying the album is nothing but a throw-back (a charge critics have been lobbing at The Hives and just about everyone else in the Garage Revival since the very beginning) to that criticism I can only say: I know it’s a throw-back, isn’t it wonderful? I’m not sure what sort of strange space-music these critics think we should all be listening to, but what The Hives are is a great, fun rock band.

The songs are longer and bit more fleshed out on LEX HIVES.  Sure, there is something wonderful about TYRANNOSAURUS HIVES’s quick-and-furious approach,  I think these longer songs feel more complete (and mature, which is an odd thing to say about The Hives).  I have a special place in my heart for the album closer “Midnight Shifter” because I used to work the midnight shift and interestingly, work/having a job seems to be a theme on LEX HIVES.  “1000 Answers” and “Without The Money” also touch on the subject of work and wealth.  The New Wave-tinged “Wait A Minute” proves that the band’s not completely finished with branching out/experimenting (and it’s hella catchy).  The best song though it “I Want More” which awesomely sends-up/rips-off Joan Jetts “I Love Rock ‘N Roll.”

Overall, LEX HIVES  is a great record that makes me want more from a band I hadn’t thought of in a while:  the album is full of awesome hooks and plenty of “shouty-shouty-handclap.”  I am satisfied.

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Highly-Unscientific Rock Poll: Dynamic-Duos

In honor of the new Sleigh Bells album, REIGN OF TERROR, I took a Facebook poll asking fans of Defending Axl Rose to vote for their favorite 2-member rock band.  I’ve always had a soft spot for 2-member rock bands that are able to sound like regular full-sized bands.

Anyway, below are the results which are SHOCKING and as always…highly unscientific.

5, 6, & 7. (3-way Tie):  The Ting Tings, Japandroids, and Tegan & Sara: This one bums me out the most, because I think Tegan & Sara are amazing.  They’ve put out more records than the Ting Tings and should not have tied with them.  I never got around to hearing the second Ting Tings album (did it ever come out? I’m too lazy to Google this) but their first record was catchy enough.  I saw ‘em live and they were okay.  Kinda the reverse of The White Stripes with the dude on drums.  Actually, the drummer for The Ting Tings was pretty badass, playing both a guitar and the drums at the same time.  Still, Tegan & Sara should have been ranked higher.

Canadian indie rockers Japandroids also tied for last place, which is a little less-surprising as they were the most low-profile band in the poll.  I really dig their crunchy garage rock sound and I gotta agree with the person who voted for them: “Heart Sweats” of POST-NOTHING is about as awesome as awesome gets.

 

4. & 3. (2-way Tie): The Black Keys and Death From Above 1979: I’m super-biased here because I actually voted for Death From Above 1979.  I am surprised to see that The Black Keys didn’t do better as they’ve got a lot of heat right now.  I dig their down-and-dirty blues rock swagger—but I think that personally they’re assholes (go read any interview the band has ever given).

While Death From Above 1979 only put out one album (well, they also released a second album that was a remix of the first one, but who counts that shit?) but they made a big impression on me.  DFA1979 sounds like way more than two dudes.  They’re noise-rock at it’s finest and super-underrated.  Go listen to “Romantic Rights” or “Black History Month” it’ll knock your socks off. Two people? Woah.

 

2. The White Stripes:  What the hell happened here?  I pretty much came up with this question with Jack and Meg in mind.  When I think of 2-piece rock bands, The White Stripes are THE first band I think of.  What’s worse about this is the band they lost to (more on that later) not to mention that one of my friends (who voted for Tegan & Sara) went out of her way to inform me that The White Stripes are just as crappy as “Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith.  That’s just disappointing.

Even if you ignore the fact that Jack White is this generation’s greatest songwriter (and a helluva guitar player), The White Stripes should still be #1 for their ability to sound like an entire 7 Nation Army when they play.

 

1. Tenacious D:  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that The “D” came out on top in this poll.  After all, all my friends are stoners…just kidding. Tenacious D is a pretty sweet band, although they get a LOT of help from really famous rock/metal musicians, so I’m not sure if it’s 100% fair to give them the crown in the “Best 2-Piece Rock Band” category.  That said, Jack and Kyle have done a lot of good for rock music, acting as metal-ambassadors to the world.

We fucking win!!!

Do you disagree with these findings? Then head on over to Facebook and “Like” Defending Axl Rose, then the next time I have a Highly-Unscientific Rock Poll you can add your two-cents.

 

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