July 13, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The White Stripes

The White Stripes aren't the first band that springs to mind when one thinks mod. In fact, at first glance they don't have anything mod about them at all. But, that's sort of the point of my mod-a-day project, highlighting things that mods might like that probably wouldn't cross their minds otherwise. Hence, The White Stripes, maybe more mod than most people would realize.

Defying most attempts to adequately define their sound, The White Stripes took delight in producing songs that incorporated a number of different styles and sounds. I have always thought of them as mostly a garage rock band, one with a deep love and respect of the blues, and a definite flare for the dramatic. They were at the forefront of the garage punk revival out of the motor city in the late 90s, and led the way for the eclectic heavy guitar sound that dominated alternative music in the first part of the 21st century.

Their sound ranges from the sixties sounding garage rock of "Hand springs" (the song here), "Hotel Yorba" and "The Denial Twist", to the indie styled "Little Ghost" and "In The Cold Cold Night", to the post-punk of "Seven Nation Army", to the Zeppelinesque "Instinct Blues", to the skiffle like "Rated X", to the punk like "Hypnotize", to the very heavy blues of "Lafeyette Blues" and "Ball & Biscuit". And then there was their breakout song, one which on first hearing sounded like something from the Buzzcocks, "Fell In Love With A Girl", and which hit it big partly because of a very cool video made with lego animation.

The White Stripes were a garage revival band, but they were also much more. They took elements of various types of underground music and blended them in new and innovative ways -- but not so innovative as to relegate themselves only to the ghetto of college station airplay. They were able to combine a radio friendly pop sensibility with that edginess that garnered them mainstream success and huge record sales.

The White Stripes -- Hand Springs

White Stripes cover Burt Bacharach's "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself"