Tuesday, February 22, 2011

February 22: The Raconteurs, "Salute Your Solution"

Artist: The Raconteurs
Song: "Salute Your Solution"
Album: Consolers Of The Lonely
Year: 2008

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In a generation of music that is at best, consistently mediocre, it is difficult to find an individual or band that regularly bucks this trend, offering hope that "real" music has not faded into obscurity.  Perhaps due to the availability of enough technology to completely compensate for a lack of talent, bands that use raw talent and years of dedication have becoming increasingly rare.  Thankfully, there remain a few lone musicians that are dedicated to keeping such causes alive, and one can easily make the case that if the current generation needed a "spokesman" for this style of performance, it likely lives within the exceptional talents of Jack White.  For well over a decade, Jack White has been rewriting what is possible within the current music scene, though many rightfully argue that it was his best known band, The White Stripes, that restricted his talents the most.  In early 2006, White began to make his massive amount of musical talent known, when he gave his first release from his side project, The Raconteurs.  Taking the lo-fi sound from The White Stripes, yet finding a way to inject more blues and rock into it, the sound of The Raconteurs was impossible to ignore, and the bands' second release, 2008's Consolers Of The Lonely, easily stands as one of the finest albums of the entire decade.  Filled with tons of attitude and unforgettable hooks, everything that makes The Raconteurs such a brilliant musical force can be experienced in their phenomenal 2008 single, "Salute Your Solution."

The moment that "Salute Your Solution" begins, not only can the presence of the band be felt, but one can easily argue that the heavy opening riff would have easily fit in during the "golden age" of hard rock.  The lead guitar riff, played by Brendan Benson and Jack White, seems to pulse across the song, giving it a looming, yet strangely welcoming feel.  The riff has so much personality that one can also make the case that it was this sound that instantly gave (and continues to give) a refreshing reminder that "real" rock music is not an idea of the past.  With bassist Jack Lawrence adding a fantastic thump underneath the guitars, "Salute Your Solution" quickly encompasses everything that is necessary for an all out rock anthem, and it is much the reason that once heard, the song is impossible to forget.  During the verses of the song, Lawrence's bass seems almost at odds with the vocals, as the two seem to push the others' energy level higher and higher.  Adding in the final piece to the sonic assault, drummer Patrick Keeler works the cymbals into a frenzy, helping to keep the overall mood of the song right on the edge of chaos, and it is this feeling that makes "Salute Your Solution" a truly exciting musical experience.  When the song moves into its "break down" section, the deep groove that The Raconteurs have created becomes quickly apparent, and it is the bands' ability to switch tempos so seamlessly, along with creating the amazing mood on the song that makes "Salute Your Solution" such a superb musical achievement.

Along with sharing guitar parts on the song, Jack White and Brendan Benson also combine their talents for the vocals on "Salute Your Solution."  While White's unmistakable voice had been heard many times before, there is an energy and excitement found here that is somehow different from all of his previous work.  It is perhaps the fact that he is completely free of restrictions on "Salute Your Solution" that brought out this sound, yet regardless of what the cause may have been, his vocal work here is without question one of the finest moments of his career.  The way in which his voice blends in unique perfection with that of Benson is one of the keys to the overall sound of The Raconteurs, and the second vocal sound adds another fantastic layer to the complete sonic picture.  Yet along with the perfectly placed music and vocals, one cannot overlook the exceptional lyrical work by the White-Benson team.  Much in the same spirit as the music and vocals, the lyrics hold nothing back, and "Salute Your Solution" contains some of the most hard hitting, unforgiving lyrics of the entire decade.  Though there are a number of fantastic lyrical moments on the song, one cannot help but smirk at lines like, "...and I got what I got all despite you, and I get what I get just to spite you..."  If there was ever a universally true lyric, this is certainly it, and this final part is what helps "Salute Your Solution" to become an absolutely classic piece of music history.

After hearing "Salute Your Solution," as well as the rest of the Consolers Of The Lonely album, one can quickly and easily understand why the argument was made that The White Stripes heavily restricted the talents of Jack White.  While that band certain has their place, and The Raconteurs certainly may have never happened without their previous existence, it is no surprise that in the end, The Raconteurs seem to be the band that has "survived."  The combination of all of the exceptionally talented musicians in the band, along with a clear sense of musical freedom makes for the ideal combination of sound and attitude, and the group stands as a reminder that there is still hope for "real" rock music, even in an era of overly-artificial songs.  Furthermore, along with the hard rock attitude of "Salute Your Solution," it somehow manages to retain an undeniable pop appeal, and the song was able to cross over into a number of different audiences.  There is even a strange feeling of defiance within the entire album, as if the band is almost daring others to follow their path of organic musical creation.  This is reinforced by the albums' cover, where the group are depicted as "old timey" minstrels, and this can be seen as a not-so-subtle nod that they take pride in reviving the "real" rock sound.  Regardless of their intent or reasoning, there is simply no getting past the fact that at the end of the day, The Raconteurs stand as perhaps the finest hard rock act of the current music scene, and they can be heard in top form on their magnificent 2008 single, "Salute Your Solution."

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