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[Off The Record]
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White Stripes

A couple of sensational blues-punk albums and a tour opening for Sleater-Kinney have made this Detroit brother-sister guitar-drums duo the happening indie-rock band of the moment. Singer/guitarist Jack Whiteís latest batch of electric tunes once again finds root in the Delta ramblings of Son House and Blind Willie McTell, but his pop instincts loom larger than ever. His voice takes two distinct shades ó a low-rent Robert Plant and a dirtier Paul McCartney ó and heís got the bombastic riffs and the mellotron-sweetened melodies to back up both.

Damn good thing, too, because White Blood Cells is all over the map. The volcanic opener, " Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground, " finds him bustling about old hedgerows and revisiting a vast ache of loss borrowed directly from Houseís " Death Letter Blues: " I didnít feel so bad till the sun went down/Then I came home/No one to wrap my arms around. " The tone set, Jack and sister Meg never pull the same trick twice: thereís a raucous Kinks-ish hootenanny ( " Hotel Yorba " ), big-production piano-and-organ pomp ( " Iím Finding It Hard To Be a Gentleman " ), nerve-fraying three-chord punk ( " Fell in Love with a Girl " ), extended spoken-word dirges, spaghetti-western country tunes, Melvins-style feedback orgies, and a few sterling McCartneyisms. Itís arena rock for bedrooms, but as Jack sings on " Little Room, " when " Youíre working in your little room, and youíre working on something good . . . youíre gonna need a bigger room. "

(White Stripes play the Middle East tonight, June 21. Call 617-864-EAST.)


Issue Date: June 21 - 28, 2001

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