Jack White tops this week's new music

Darryl Sterdan, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:49 PM ET

ALBUM OF THE WEEK

Jack White
Lazaretto


Jack White is not sorry. Not by a long shot. He can apologize to The Black Keys, Meg White, Lana Del Rey and the rest of the world all he likes. But it takes only a few minutes with the singer-guitarist’s sophomore solo album to understand that regret and contrition are not the emotions driving him these days. Anger and resentment are — along with healthy doses of paranoia, mistrust and alienation. No surprise there. Over the past few years, the former White Stripes frontman — who has always enjoyed wrapping himself and his work in an enigmatic cloak of lies and riddles — has been thrust out from behind his Wizard of Oz curtain and into the white-hot crucible of fame by his solo career, messy divorce and penchant for running his mouth before engaging his brain. So, much as Blunderbuss was his breakup album (he denied it to my face and everyone else’s, but come on), Lazaretto — which tellingly takes its title from a quarantine station for sailors — is his post-breakup album: The outbursts of a man who’s isolated, adrift and afflicted. But here’s another non-surprise: White channels that aggression and defiance into his latest in a long line of stone-cold killer discs. Picking up right where Blunderbuss left off and utilizing many of the same musicians, the 11-song album displays all his usual hallmarks: The crunching blues-rockers, the country honkers, the rootsy duets, the proggy keyboard freakouts, the unhinged vocals, the massive hooks, the oddball lyrics, the deep grooves, the freewheeling arrangements. Only this time, they’re often delivered with slightly more vitriol and pessimism, making this one of his most potently personal works. Nothing to be sorry about there.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)



Chrissie Hynde
Stockholm


Chrissie Hynde has stopped pretending. For now, anyway. After some 35 years fronting various lineups of The Pretenders, the racoon-eyed singer-guitarist is finally striking out on her own — and changing her tune somewhat — with her first true solo album. Sort of. Truth is, while her name stands alone on the cover, Stockholm may actually be her most truly collaborative effort to date. The 11-song album was written and recorded in, yes, Sweden with Bjorn Yttling (you may remember him from Peter, Bjorn and John’s whistle-pop hit Young Folks). His influence and input aren’t hard to hear on these cuts, which exchange Hynde’s slashing guitar-rock for a lusher and broader palette of songs, sounds and styles — most of which are based around quieter moods, mellower beats, popper melodies and a greater reliance on synthesizers and beatboxes. Befitting the more intimate surroundings, Hynde also reins in her voice, crooning in husky tones instead of cutting loose with her soaring contralto. Which is not to imply Stockholm lacks punch. Guitars still factor heavily in the proceedings, from the crunching Crazy Horse folk-rocker Down the Wrong Way (which includes a cameo by none other than Neil Young) and the choppy single Dark Sunglasses to the ringing Johnny Thunders-style licks of A Plan to Far and the strummed acoustic-based closers Sweet Nuthin’ and Adding the Blue. Granted, fans who have been waiting six years for a new Pretenders album may be slightly disappointed. But those who have appreciated Hynde’s mellower moments over the decades won’t mind that she’s being herself for a change.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)



Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin
Common Ground: The Songs of Big Bill Broonzy


You wanna hear some American music? You won’t find anything more authentic than this. Estranged Blasters brothers Phil and Dave Alvin have put aside their long-simmering differences in honour of prolific country-blues icon Broonzy. And naturally, they render vintage fare like All By Myself, I Feel So Good and Key to the Highway with all the unvarnished simplicity and earthy twang you’d expect. But the real cause for celebration here is hearing Phil’s high-lonesome yodel teamed with Dave’s bruised baritone and nimble fretwork once again. It’s the next best thing to a Blasters reunion.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

LP
Forever For Now


There are two sides to an LP — and to LP. On one hand, Laura Pergolizzi is a hired-gun tunesmith for the likes of Rihanna, Xtina, Cher and BSB. On the other, she’s a slightly quirkier singer-songwriter and ukulele lover who finally broke through to the mainstream with 2012’s Into the Wild. Forever For Now — her first full-length in a decade — tries to fuse her split personality by goosing her roof-raising howl and left-field tendencies with super-slick sonics, dance-worthy grooves and outsized production. The Florence and the Machine-like results are sometimes too relentlessly and heavy-handedly commercial for their own good, but they’ll certainly do for now.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Andrew Bird
Things Are Really Great Here, Sort of …


Time is a flat circle. Just like Bird’s latest CD. The Chicago singer-songwriter and violinist shares his love for alt-country cult heroes The Handsome Family, best known these days for the True Detective theme Far From Any Road. Bird and his band retool that one — along with nine more of the duo’s Gothic folk ballads — with the ornate chamber-folk atmosphere and bittersweet dignity that are his hallmarks. What’s that say about your reality?

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Spanish Gold
South of Nowhere


Nowhere comes from somewhere. To wit: Semi-supergroup Spanish Gold is fronted by Hacienda singer-guitarist Dante Schwebel — so, much like his day job, it possesses the psychedelic-soul haze of a moodier Black Keys. Still, even if you feel like you’ve been here before, it’s a decent place to visit.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

King Buzzo
This Machine Kills Artists

Call it Gluey Back Porch Treatments. Malevolent Melvins singer-guitarist Buzz Osborne unplugs his axe for this solo acoustic venture — yet still delivers an album as heavy, weird and threatening as anything he’s cranked out with his sludge-metal cohorts.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

OLDIES OF THE WEEK

The Who
Quadrophenia Live in London: Deluxe Edition


“Why should I care?” muses Pete Townshend in Quadrophenia. You might be wondering the same thing about Quadrophenia Live in London. Fair enough. But since you asked, here are four good reason to check out The Who’s latest retelling of their 1973 rock opera about the existential meltdown of a troubled ’60s Mod named Jimmy.
1) THE PERFORMANCE IS IMPRESSIVE. Recorded and filmed in Wembley Arena on the final night of their 2012 Quadrophenia Tour, the 95-minute main event captures singer-guitarist Townshend and frontman Roger Daltrey in fine form. Musically and otherwise. Pete’s playing is aggressive as ever, with plenty of slashing riffs and power-chord windmills. Roger’s vocals are incredibly powerful — his screams at the end of Love Reign o’er Me are every bit as primal as four decades ago. Not bad for two guys pushing 70. Their eight-piece band (including guitarist Simon Townshend and bassist Pino Palladino) and horn section have their backs capably. And the production — featuring plenty of vintage video and a Union Jack lighting rig — is eye-catching without getting in the way.
2) KEITH AND JOHN MAKE CAMEOS. No, dearly departed drummer Keith Moon and thundering bassist John Entwistle haven’t been reincarnated. Or turned into holograms. But they do appear in the show via video. An old clip of Entwistle playing a typically gargantuan bass solo is inserted during 5:15 as the band jams along; another hunk of footage from the mid-’70s finds Moon rearing up from behind his kit to deliver his Bell Boy vocals. The best part? The sheer joy on Roger’s face as he watches those old clips. Speaking of old stuff: Along with Quadrophenia, you get the encore, featuring another half-hour of vintage Who cuts like Who Are You, Pinball Wizard and Won’t Get Fooled Again.
3) THE PACKAGING IS COOL. The deluxe edition comes in a faux Vespa headlight decorated with the red, white and blue Mod logo (it’s really a 10-inch round metal tin with a giant cushioned decal on the front, but still). Inside, you get the concert on Blu-ray, regular DVD and two CDs, along with a round booklet of photos, a Mod headlight button and sticker.
4) YOU GET QUADROPHENIA IN 5.1 AUDIO. Not surprisingly, Townshend originally envisioned Quadrophenia as a quadrophonic work. And on the 2011 Director’s Cut box set, he remixed eight of the major cuts in quad. But now, finally and for the first time, the entire album has been redone in 5.1 Blu-ray audio, creating a whole new listening experience. And in typical Townshend fashion, it’s just tossed in here as a bonus disc. That alone almost justifies the $100 price tag on the box. Though supposedly, the various configurations are all available separately. Should you care.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)



Paul Weller
More Modern Classics


What a difference an ocean makes. Former Jam master and Style Councilman Weller is deservedly revered in his native England. On this side of the pond? Not so much. Thankfully, those who want to play catchup are in luck. The Modfather’s latest compilation — a sequel to his 1998 outing titled, yes, Modern Classics — collects some 20 hits, highlights and singles from his past 15 years, running the gamut from slashing guitar-rock and post-punk to heavy soul, R&B, psychedelia, folk and more. And of course, it gifts us with the mandatory two new songs. Sure, it barely dips a toe into the vast sea of his catalog, but hey, it’s a start.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

IN THE PIPELINE

June 24

Anberlin
lowborn
The Babys
I’ll Have Some of That!
Ginger Baker
Why?
Rubén Blades
Tangos
Jackson Browne
Late For the Sky (Remastered 40th Anniversary Edition)
Corrosion of Conformity
IX
deadmau5
while(1<2)
Peter Frampton
Hummingbird in a Box
GusGus
Mexico
Kitten
Kitten
Mastodon
Once More ‘Round the Sun
Phish
Fuego
Ed Sheeran
x

darryl.sterdan@sunmedia.ca
Twitter: @darryl_sterdan


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