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White Blood Cells

White Stripes
White Blood Cells
(Sympathy For The Record Industry)

Technically, Jack and Meg White aren't really doing anything musically that hasn't been done before. Their rough style of playing garage-style rock with a touch of dirty-ass blues is something that's been going on for probably 30 years or more, but surprisingly this duo has created an album that is teeming with refreshing energy. Some nervous speculation has been made as to whether the duo are truly brother and sister, or whether they're dating or whatever else but the fact remains that they play some damn good rock and roll musics.

I've gone through different phases in my musical listening habits, but to tell the truth, it's been a long time since I've gotten an album like this. In the past couple years, I've swerved back and forth from favoring electronic music to some offshoot of rock, but this fairly stripped-down album came straight at me and hooked me, and it didn't even really bother me that at times I wondered if I was listening to a song that had been culled from 70s classic rock (which I've honestly never found very appealing).

As mentioned above, the group is just a duo, and the crux of the music done on this release is created on good old guitars and drums. There are occassions where bass guitar and piano make an entrance, but that's about it. Of course, it would be silly of me not to mention the main element of the tracks, which is (all for the instrumental tracks obviously), the voice of Jack White. He sings, croons, and sometimes just plain yells in a semi-scratchy voice with one of the most soulful and straightforward voices I've heard in quite awhile. The album opener of "Dead Leaves On The Dirty Ground" gives you a good idea of what to expect, as the track rolls out of the gates with some guitars that wail out of the gate before quieting down for mellow verses and crunching down with loud drums again for a badass riffing chorus. White goes through a vocal workout on the track, hitting falsetto at moments and acting sly the next.

Award for catchiest track on the album goes to "Hotel Yorba," which jangles along with some acoustic guitars and more vocals by White that sound like he's on the edge of having his voice crack with each word. The sing-along chorus of the track will have you counting right along. The rest of the album is more of the same. "Fell In Love With A Girl" is a quick, skronky rock workout, while the guitar chords of "Expecting" (along with "Aluminum") will make you do a double-take and wonder whether you're hearing a Black Sabbath track. That in itself may sound like a bad thing, but once you hear it you'll be converted.

There are a couple tracks on the disc that fall slightly off-the-mark, but they're few and far between, and they don't really fall that far. The group gets fairly nicey sounding and sentimental on "The Same Boy You've Always Known" and "We're Going To Be Friends," but both tracks remain catchy and fun and offer up a different sound for the group. Things are offset anyway with blistering tracks like, "I Think I Smell A Rat." As mentioned above, this disc is basically straight-up rock and roll, but it's done with enough original flair that I'm hooked. Besides, it's nothing like what passes for "rock" on the radio these days.

Rating: 7.75