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Consolers of the Lonely - The RaconteursI own a lot of music, and I know a fair amount about each of those bands. There’s a lot of music that I don’t own, and a lot of bands that I know a lot about without owning their music.

Take Jack White for instance. I don’t know a lot about him, but I know enough to be intrigued. For those that don’t know him by name, he’s half of the duo that makes up The White Stripes, popular for stripped down garage rock and hits like “Fell in Love with a Girl” and “Seven Nation Army.” He’s probably just as famous for his eccentricity as he is for his music. Whether an intentional marketing ploy or not, the band created a lot of buzz over the mystery of the relationship between Jack White and the other half of The White Stripes, Meg White; in their press releases they were described as siblings, although eventually it become known that Meg White was Jack’s ex-wife, and that Jack had taken her name when they married - hence the confusion.

All of this to say that I don’t own a single White Stripes album. I have just recently become the owner of the new album by The Raconteurs, another band fronted by Jack White. The band formed when Jack co-wrote a song called Steady As She Goes with a friend, a creative process that tipped the forge and created The Raconteurs. Steady As She Goes became a huge hit, and Jack White started to move into the realm of the iconic, a King Midas of music.

Many bands are compared to their predecessors, but I can’t think of another band that can recall the memories of so many legends in the same album like The Raconteurs in Consolers of the Lonely - at times reminiscent of The Beatles - at others Bob Dylan, The Who, just Lennon, just McCartney. Suffice it to say that this is a very diverse album. At times frenetic, brooding, euphoric, and melancholy. Perhaps it’s best described as a complex wine that gets better with age, appreciated by those that can pick up the individual notes (blues, balladry, punk, folk, bluegrass and rock) and fall in love with their chaotic blend. Others, like Kami, might prefer the OFF button.

I fall in love with a new song with every listen - and each listen only convinces me of Jack White’s genius. I think that time will regard him as one of the best musicians of my generation.

Favorites: The Switch and the Spur, Old Enough, Carolina Drama

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jjgrey.jpgAt one time or another, everyone likes finding a dark horse in the race - going against the consensus and putting their faith in the unknown. It’s like this for me and music: I like finding a new artist before they hit it big, before my favorite song gets turned into a ringtone or is used in the final sequence of Grey’s Anatomy. I derive the same pleasure in finding a new artist that I like as I do in finding a new wine I like (although finding a new artist AND and a new wine…well, that’s double the pleasure!). For me, new music from a familiar artist can’t replace the suspense or intrigue of hearing an artist for the first time.

My richest claim in this gold rush has been the John Butler Trio - and in a search for artists similar to the John Butler Trio I came across JJ Grey & Mofro. Their music isn’t really that similar at all, other than their evaluation (they are both GOOD). “Country Ghetto” should be packaged with a smoke alarm. Well, to be fair, it should come in the form of a darkly lit blues club in the deep south, with air heavy in cigar smoke and a melancholy that smolders like ash. I’m not a connoisseur of blues clubs, but it doesn’t really matter - music affects my senses like a drug, transporting me to another place and time based not on my experiences but on the experiences of the musician.

One of the other reasons that I like this cd is because of the relevance. If there were a “Best of Blues” catalogue, an overwhelming majority of these songs were written well over 30 years ago. While that doesn’t diminish the value of the songs, a genre has to continue to evolve and gain new, younger fans - and you do that by generating new music. JJ Grey and Mofro are able to do this while still staying true to the blues form - incorporating the use of an organ and a harmonica over a thumping bass line while covering modern topics like war, the reach of the FBI, and the poverty line.

It’s hard to describe the music beyond this. In reading the reviews posted on Amazon.com, I don’t think that I’m alone in this plight. Most everyone raves about it though, and describe it as their favorite album of late. Not recommended for fans of anything popular, but highly endorsed by dark horses everywhere.

Favorite Songs: War, On Palestine, Mississippi

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