The White Stripes White Blood Cells
Grade
A-
 
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After years of watching the bulk of popular rock and roll slowly edging towards "Nu-Metal" with the likes of Limp Bizkit, Korn and Linkin Park, listing to The White Stripes is a shock to the system. Comprised of two members, this Detroit band takes guitars, drums and a little piano thrown in for good measure and hands listeners a punk-laden straight forward rock and roll album that relies not on gimmicks or production tricks, but on the strength of the songs and the delivery.

The White Stripes are a stripped-down, no frills rock and roll that hails back to the 60's and 70's. At every turn, you can hear the influence of old school rock and roll in their music and you may find yourself waxing nostalgic for the early days of Led Zepplin and The Who. Not since the stoner rock movement (Kyuss, Fu Manchu) has rock and roll been so stripped down to its barest essentials.

Jack White's vocals are much like his guitarwork - simple yet bitterly acidic, while at the same time revealing a lot of strength of emotion. From time to time, as in I'm finding it harder to be a gentleman and This Protector, Jack breaks out the piano to add another layer of sound to the fairly simple formula. Meg White's role as drummer provides a simple yet effective backbone to the album.

The screeching feedback that opens the album quickly leads into Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground, a raw rock anthem that switches back and forth between the casual low-tone guitars and a more raucous, emotional swings. Fell in Love with a Girl is a fast punk-heavy piece that's over almost as soon as it gets started. Tracks like Expecting and Offend in Every Way really draw on the old school rock style and make the album a real treasure to listen to. The instrumental Aluminum may feel like the odd man out in this album, as it punches the listener with heavy distortion and some odd, offbeat production.

And when you think that The White Stripes might be falling into a pattern, they throw in a simplistic, yet effective acoustic track, like We're Going to be Friends and Hotel Yorba, to change the pace. The acoustic tracks show a lot of heart, even in their simplistic form.

Listeners will not be over-impressed with any technical performance in the album. There are no virtuosos here, overplaying their instruments and soloing themselves into history for the sake of show and ego. What is here is probably the rawest form of rock and roll, hailing back to the genre's roots. Simple yet effective, The White Stripes give the listener all they have without any muddling around in production techniques or additional musicians to fill in gaps they just don't seem to have.

- - Vane

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