20 Watts

Releases of the Week, Week 11: Joe Bonamassa, Gnarls Barkley and the Raconteurs by 20watts

The Raconteurs – Consolers of the Lonely

Finally! Jack White hasn’t just made an album of raw noise. I was surprised when I actually heard a melody and harmony with smooth horn parts. This is not the usual Jack White and for that, I am thrilled. The Raconteurs prove with this album that they are truly great musicians with many different paths and visions.

Each track is different and they get back to their country and rock roots without sounding old. “Many Shades of Black” is a track that has everything in it. The horn parts add depth while the rough electric guitar adds style and feeling. Every instrument compliments the next beautifully. Each track is simple without being simplistic and every track adds a feeling to the album, which makes it something of a gem.

Most artists have a “style” but not The Raconteurs. Sure, you can say that they’re a rock band, but with tracks like “Old Enough” they could easily be confused with a folk fusion group, and “Salute Your Solution” sounds almost punk. When did Jack White stop making mediocre garbage and grow into an incredible musician? This could easily become one of the best rock albums of the year.
Best Track: “Old Enough”

Gnarls Barkley – The Odd Couple

To say the least I was incredibly disappointed with this album. And despite the fact that DJ Danger Mouse is one of my favorite producers, this album lacks so much in production value. The music is OK and there is no doubt that Gnarls Barkley has redefined the neo-soul, hip-hop mash but all the songs sound the same. They have definitely lost the edge that was present during their first studio album and although the colorful rhythms and synthetic tones that made up that unique style are there it just doesn’t feel as original.

There are a few gems, however. “Going On”, the best track on the album, has a very laid back, old school feel that really brings the music back to its roots. Cee-lo’s voice really shines on this track and instead of being as strange as possible he is able to take his voicing back to a 60’s sound.

The main problem with this album is that it’s just too much of the same. The tracks are good but not solid, the production is fine but not great. This is an overall mediocre album from two visionaries who should know better. If you want to hear Gnarls Barkley in their prime go back to St. Elsewhere.
Best Track: “Going On”

Joe Bonamassa – Sloe Gin

It’s not very often that you find a true blues guitarist these days. Most are either washed up or have passed away but when I fell on Sloe Gin I realized that there is still hope for a dying genre.

Joe Bonamassa has an incredible finger picking folk style that adds to his bluesy and soulful voice. He is similar to Keb’ Mo’ but tends to have heavier, more electric songs. This really shows how versatile a player he is. “Another Kind of Love” proves that he is a true guitar riff slinger and can rock harder than most guitar gods. I also have an incredible amount of respect for guitar players who can perform acoustically. It is such a raw and natural sound that only a few are able to truly understand and play. With “Ball Peen Hammer” and “Richmond” Bonamassa proves that he has mastered this sound. My favorite track on the album, “Jelly Roll”, has a southern bounce to it that every other modern blues song seems to be missing.

If you’re a fan of the blues (or just a music fan in general) check out Joe Bonamassa because he is quickly climbing up the guitar god ladder.
Best Track: “Jelly Roll”

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