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Jack White & James Murphy Take Break From Music to Make Music


White (or "V")

Last year was a bad year for indie rock, with two of the biggest bands calling it quits. The White Stripes (Jack White & Meg White) and LCD Soundsystem (basically just James Murphy) announced that their bands were retired. It was a bold move considering both acts were still in their prime.

Jack White has handled his post-White Stripes career pretty well. He cleverly avoided the pitfalls of reinventing himself or trying something “new” by going “solo” and recording an album that sounds “exactly like the White Stripes.” The lead single, “Love Interruption,” is an acoustic ballad, which is rare for the White Stripes, but it would not have sounded out of place on any of the former’s albums. The next track released is “Sixteen Saltines,” which sounds exactly like the White Stripes but with a bassist and better drums.

I respect Jack for doing the chivalrous thing and breaking up his former band. In leaving Meg behind, the band’s breakup was simply a nice way of saying “I’m tired of having a shitty drummer.” Starting a new project with a drummer that doesn’t need basic lessons sounds better than kicking his ex-wife out of the band and replacing her. So kudos to Jack White, the last gentleman in indie rock.

James Murphy’s post-LCD Soundsystem career is a bit different. He decided to take a break from making “good music” to experiment with making awful music. Again, it was a carefully planned strategy, as people would have complained about LCD Soundsystem making crap, but Gorillaz – well, crap is what they do.

Murphy collaborated with the Gorillaz and Andre 3000 on the track “DoYaThing,” fulfilling Murphy’s long-held dream of creating a 13-minute commercial for a sneaker company. The song has a great groove that is ideal for making white people like Murphy and cartoon characters like the Gorillaz dance. The only problem is that the lyrics sound like they were chosen at random by a kindergarten class assignment in an inner-city school where the students use a lot of profanity.

The song has a short version for those who don’t like 13-minute Converse commercials. In it, the most enlightening part is where Andre 3000 shows up and starts rapping. He starts by saying “new word: onomatopoeia… boom!” I think it’s great that Andre is expanding his vocabulary, but while this word is new to him, it’s actually been around since the 16th century. It’s then rhymed with “quit acting like you don’t want to be here.” He may have been talking to Murphy, but I only hope that there’s a remix where the line is “see ya, wouldn’t want to be ya,” since that actually rhymes better with onomatopoeia.

It was smart by Murphy and the Gorillaz to include Andre, because rhyming “juicy fruit” with “shplooshy-shploosh” and “bloop de bloop” with “duked duked” has more street cred if it sounds like a black man is saying it. With his section of the song, talking about “booty juice” and wondering “how come blacks don’t play baseball,” Andre reminds the world why he won a Grammy.

The 13-minute version of the song ends with Andre repeating “I’m shit,” but I feel he’s being too hard on himself. He’s learning new words and coming up with rhymes about bubble gum to sell sneakers. Not many Grammy-winning artists can say that.

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