Jack White, Benjamin Booker | Auditorium Theatre | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Jack White, Benjamin Booker All Ages Agenda Early Warnings (Music) Sold Out (Music) Soundboard Recommended Image

When: Thu., July 24, 8 p.m. 2014

I’ve been enjoying Jack White’s second solo album, Lazaretto (Third Man/Columbia), but parts of it consistently rankle—specifically, the songs where he drops his alien guitar playing and oddball singing and lights out toward tradition. Though garage rock, blues, and country have always been part of his music, here he sometimes indulges in what feel like genre exercises, at least coming from him. “Alone in My Home” might as well be a sprightly throwaway by the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens, and “Entitlement” is boilerplate country-rock that would’ve been overlooked during the height of the No Depression movement. The best songs are the spazziest, weirdest ones. On the proggy blues-rock jam “That Black Bat Licorice,” Fats Kaplin’s fiddle and Brooke Waggoner’s Hammond B-3 snake in unison over a thumping drumbeat while White spits out his lyrics in a helium-high frenzy; the title track brings a disco undertone to vintage Zeppelin-style riffs, topping them off with a wonderfully jagged guitar solo that’s refracted by effects pedals into several parallel voices; and the instrumental “High Ball Stepper” lurches forward through false starts and wild dynamic shifts, with bizarre tone colors and a genuinely nasty guitar solo that’s so overdriven, congested, and compressed that it sometimes sounds almost like turntable scratching or cellophane crumpling around a mike. The conventional Jack White seems to be the boring one. —Peter Margasak Also Wed 7/23, 8 PM at the Chicago Theatre.

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