Detroit duo White Stripes mixes basic elements into simple beauty.
The Metro Times
by Norene Cashen
Part Gorie-fied garage shamanism and part beglittered T-Rex/Zeppelin
splatter, White Stripes is in a word primitive. The good
news is the Detroit twosome Jack and Meg White possesses
the untamable element that revs the heart rate instead of turning the
stomach with the sour fruit vestiges of Motor City stereotypes and classic
After all, even with all the New Millennial striving of electronic formats,
that stuff still grows on trees. And its because most musicians
get to their roots or someone elses without knowing
how to be inspired by them. In worst case scenarios they end up mimicking
them, twisting them up into radio-friendly pretzels that make hearing
Hendrix on a Burger King commercial seem normal.
At just 23, Jack has a great theory behind his music: Keep it simple.
"When we started, our objective was to be as simple as possible,"
Jack says. "Megs sound is like a little girl trying to play
the drums and doing the best she can. Her playing on The Big 3 Killed
My Baby is the epitome of what I like about her drumming. Its
just hits over and over again. Its not even a drumbeat its
Like the unassuming charm of the red-and-white striped candy pictured
on the Stripes two self-titled 7" singles on Italy Records
their music has elements you can still count. In fact, Jack, a
guy with a penchant for certain colors and numbers, prefers you do that
"Thats a big thing for me," Jack says. "It came
out the most on The Big 3 Killed My Baby. Its three
chords and three verses, and we accent threes together all through that.
It was a number I always thought of as perfect, or our attempt at being
perfect. Like on a traffic light, you couldnt just have a red and
a green. I work on sculptures too, and I always use three colors."
Jack and Meg cut their chaos into big, graspable pieces, never getting
too complicated or calculated where they can afford to be impulsive. And
thats nearly everywhere, from the above-cited, three-ply factory
dirge about the auto industry to "Lafayette Blues," a song about
the French street names in Detroit.
"I was talking to some friends from New York the other day,"
Jack says. "And they were saying Detroit is a ghost town. But Iggy
Pop said in Detroit youre one in a hundred; in New York or LA, youre
one in a million."
Sure, another band from Detroit, sounding Detroit and nodding to Detroit,
might be about as alluring as an interactive tour of Zug Island
not only a drag, but also a health hazard. But and you have to
hear it to believe it the Stripes self-titled debut (due
out this summer on Sympathy for the Record Industry) serves better to
remind us that local identity has more options than a membership card
to the latest cliché (Red Wings, anyone?) or a one-way ticket to
And if, after all that, White Stripes falls short of being the Jesus
to rock n rolls Lazarus, so be it. In some living room,
somewhere in this town, their music will at least rekindle the excitability
of someone who still gets a thrill out of raw talent gone this beautifully
and youthfully awry.