Know Your Alternative Rock: Jack White

It’s hard to describe how influential Jack White has been to music in general, especially anything with a guitar. Whether it’s been with the White Stripes, the Raconteurs or solo, If you’re already a big fan of Alternative Rock, or you’re just exploring, it’s worth getting to know his music.

White Stripes

This is the band where I first heard of Jack White. They kept playing these two songs on the radio in the 90s and blew the fuck up.

Like so many iconic artists, The White Stripes sounded like no other band at the time. Other artists immediately began copying their style.

Hearing this shit come on the radio was epic in the late 90s, and I knew that I would be a Jack White fan for life.

Unfortunately the band broke up. When two artists in a band are married and they break up, the band breaks up. Oh well, at least they gave us Icky Thump first.

The Raconteurs

What does an iconic artist do when his band breaks up? Why form another band of course. I loved the hard, raw style of The White Stripes, but The Raconteurs had their own unique sound and really advanced Alternative Rock in my opinion.

The first time I heard Consoler of The Lonely, I was blown away. The second time I heard it, my whole house was blown away from the stereo being cranked all the way up!

Tracks like You Don’t Understand Me took Jack White in new directions. As much as I hate to see him move away from some of the harder stuff, he just keeps getting better and better.

It’s hard to pin Jack White down to just one genre. This song reminds of me of Led Zeppelin.  This particular album is replayable as hell.

Solo Career

He just keeps getting better and better. Love Interruption is probably my favorite song he’s ever written.”I won’t let love disrupt, corrupt or interrupt me.”

Thank you, music gods, for giving us Jack White.

New Music From Die Antwoord, Fergie and More

I’ve been waiting a while for Die Antwoord to release a track from their new album, and it’s finally out. Much love for Yolandi and her Banana Brain.

Fergie was great with the Black Eyed Peas, but I think that I like her better as a solo artist. Milf Money is a hot track!

This song by the Lumineers has been seriously stuck in my head for a couple months. Too bad I suck as a singer, but that hasn’t stopped me from belting out every time Ophelia comes on the radio.

Wolfmother kind of snuck up on me. I can almost put my finger on the band they remind me of, but it eludes me. I want to say Jane’s addiction. The first time I heard Woman, I was blown away. They definitely rock!

Berner is OK. I’m not a huge fan, but you get my attention when a new track comes out with B-Real and Snoop Dogg on it. Best Thang Smokin’ is a pretty chill track. Not surprisingly, B-Real steals the spotlight on this track.

This track from Machine Gun Kelly just dropped yesterday! Young Man has a good flow to it. MGK is kind of hit-an-miss with me, but the tracks of his I like, I really like.



Music From The Sopranos

I’ve always been a fan of the Sopranos. Recently I’ve binge-watched all six seasons again, and one of the thing that stands out in my mind is the awesome music. This is by no means a complete listing of the music played on the series. What I’ve tried to do is cherry pick some of my favorite tracks from the show.

I was a teenager in the 1980s and I while I remember this song, I don’t remember the band Time Zone.

There’s not a lot of 50 year old songs in my mind that still hold up well culturally like I’m Not Like Everybody Else from The Kinks. To say these guys were way ahead of their time is a massive understatement.

Mophine is one of those bands I never really got into at the time, but as my musical tastes have evolved over the years, I really like the dirty-jazz-meets-grunge-rock sound that Buena has. I think it was a really good fit for a Sopranos episode as well.

I’ve heard Metallica playing in a few episodes when they are at the Bada Bing. I was an old school fan of Metallica from the 80s but they really let me down as a fan by turning into raging douchebags. Oh well, their music was still good, and this is one of the songs they played at the Bing.

Songs like this one from Cake just showed the producers’ deep understanding of music and their love of punkish, alternative bands.

Kasey Chambers has a really sweet voice and I like the lyrics of The Captain. This is one of those songs I like that blurs different genres together: it’s got a little country, folk and rock in it!

The Sopranos has so much good classic rock that it’s hard to choose the gems.  I was in love with Grace Slick in the 80s, and this song is still iconic, even in the YouTube era.





New Music From Wolf Alice, X Ambassadors, Shakey Graves and More

I didn’t think I liked this song until it was stuck in my head.

Maybe I’m just a sucker for a cute girl with a microphone, but I’m much more picky about the male crooners I like, the dudes who just belt it out.

Shakey Graves is in my opinion another act that’s about to break through to the public consciousness it deserves. I LOVE acts like this that are hard to pin down to a genre.

I’m also picky about my dance music. But I always keep an open mind and I never know what song will suck me in like this one.

I’ve always had a man-crush on Killer Mike, but add Zach de la Rocha, the singer of Rage Against the Machine, and I’m guaranteed to click on it. I don’t pretend to understand the black experience, but I did grow up poor in a high crime area, so rap like this with a political message usually resonates with me.



Music Discovery With Phoenix, Natalie Umbruglia, Ray LaMontagne and More

1901 by Phoenix is one of those songs you hear on the radio or a TV show but can’t find the name of. Now you just say “OK Google What Is This Song” and boom, that’s how I found this one!

Natalie Umbruglia has been around a long time and I’ve never been a huge fan of her work, but I like the flow of Torn.

But when I think Natalie, I think Natalie Merchant, who I’ve been in love with for about the last decade. Some of her songs, like Beloved Wife, show how powerful of a singer she is.

The Violent Femmes have been on my mind since they have a new album coming out soon. I was a long haired kid who listened mostly to heavy metal. As  I got older, my tastes went with whatever I liked, and Blister In The Sun was one of those alternative songs that expanded my musical consciousness.

I never heard of Ray LaMontagne before I heard this song, Part One – Hey, No Pressure on the radio earlier today. Some of the YouTube comments criticize them for sounding like the Black Keys, but I personally like it.

It’s slipped my mind whether I’ve linked Pretty Pimpin’ by Kurt Vile, but it’s a chill song that’s been getting some local radio play.




New Music From Violent Femmes, The Lumineers, Ice Cube and More

It’s been many years since Violent Femmes put out an album, and their new album comes out March 18th! You can get a taste of it on YouTube in the meantime.

Here’s a new one from The Lumineers. Ophelia is a solid track. There’s so many younger, folkish bands like The Lumineers,  Mumford and Sons, Of Monsters And Men, etc.

Lose It is a chill song they’ve been playing on discovery radio here in Portland. I’ve never heard of Oh Wonder, but I’m a sucker for those lilting, ethereal voices.

Ice Cube is as old as me, but he’s one of the greatest lyricists of all time, and money hasn’t made him an asshole. He’s still making good raps.


Weed Music Vol. 1

Marijuana was first used in the mainstream by jazz musicians looking for a creative edge for their music. Cannabis expanded the mind and at the time was used predominately by minorities, which was all the reason the establish needed to make it illegal.

At some point, public consciousness shifted towards cannabis, and now part of our social fabric is green. Just look at Steve Burke’s parody video of Macklemore’s Thrift Shop, titled, wait for it … Pot Shop. I fucking love this song! I like Macklemore, but this version is much better.

Now that it’s “safe” to sing about, songs about weed have exploded, like Lana Rey’s High By The Beach. I don’t think I ever met a musician who didn’t smoke, and now the music is finally reflecting this fact!

It wasn’t so long ago that making a music video where are getting high could risk arrest by everyone there. Cypress Hill were the first musicians openly speaking / rapping about cannabis. They were rapping about growing and smoking weed in the 1980s–a long time before it was a safe subject.

To say that songs like Doctor Greenthumb was groundbreaking is a massive understatement. These guys smoked weed and had the gall not only not to be ashamed about it, they were writing songs about it!

Reggae had long dropped hints about its use of ganja by the Coptic Church.  But combining Cypress Hill with the son of Bob Marley brought reggae up to speed.

Hardcore rappers weren’t the only musicians smoking the last 20 years. It’s more like they were the only ones not afraid of the consequences of rapping about smoking.


Fast forward almost 30 years from Doctor Greenthum, and B Real is still at it.

New Music Discovery with Hozier, Milky Chance and Others

This song by Hozier was just posted to YouTube last week, although I’ve heard they’ve been doing this song for a while. Cherry Wine deals with domestic abuse, and they even have a list of resources on their site.

I had never heard of Milky Chance before this song, Stolen Dance, which has almost a quarter billion views on YouTube!

Normally a song like this would be a little too pop for me, but Safe and Sound is catchy and I like the flow.


Macklemore just released this new song on Valentine’s Day. Spoons is an interesting song. Not as serious as White Privilege II but not really catchy to me, either.

I’m not a huge Berner fan, but I’ll listen to any song where B Real raps, and this is a good song. It’s hard to believe he’s been rapping as long as he has.





New Music From Disclosure, Tame Impala, B0RNS and More

This song Magnets with Lorde has been stuck in my head for about a week.  I grew up in southern California, and this song totally gives me the beach vibe.

I’ve heard this song on a couple TV shows and I never caught the name of the song. I heard it on the local discovery radio station when I was on the bike, and asked Google what song it was. I had never heard of Tame Impala but I really dig this song Elephant.

B0rns kind of reminds me of Calvin Harris, except he does his own singing.  And he sounds like a girl. He’s just good at putting together a good song, like 10,000 Emerald Pools.

Some people say the Decemberists sound like REM, but I don’t hear more than maybe a small influence. They certainly have an epic sound, like in This Is Why We Fight.

One look at the hair in this video and I know what group of friends listened to this group in high school. I Got You is one of those songs that stands the test of time well.

The Talking Heads were so far ahead of their time, most people will hear this song and tell you it was from the 80s, and they’d be wrong. Psycho Killer is from 1977!

Maynard James Keenan could make an album of just him sitting on the couch watching TV and I would watch it. Just like Jack White, he’s still pushing the envelope of hard rock. I love this new track The Remedy.




Bad Lip Reading

Jack Black and Bill Hader are making some hilarious videos of “bad lip reading.” Most of these are pure genius, and I think my favorite is the Republican debate.

They are most well known for the Star Wars videos, which are all funny, but I think this is my favorite of the lot.

The ex made me sit through all the Twilight Movies. It was a traumatizing experience, but watching bad lip reading of Twilight helps me to heal.

If you’re going to make political humor, it’s only fair to make fun of everyone.