The Raconteurs Return With New 7" Single!

On August 11 of last year, I had the amazing opportunity to meet Jack White and his band at their Portland, Oregon concert after the publication of my Boarding House Reach review. White read my review, loved it, and through his tour manager and a few other connections, invited my family backstage. We got to stand right behind the sound engineers and lighting controllers, and I even got to view the show from the side of the stage next to White’s guitar technician. Needless to say, I’m a fan; we purchased concert tickets prior to his invitation (and in February 2016, we even made the trek from New Jersey to his Third Man Records headquarters in Nashville).

After that energetic show, White played me snippets of unreleased material from his Mac laptop through a skinny, floorstanding Bose speaker. Following session material and unreleased songs from Boarding House Reach, White played a song set aside for a future album by the Raconteurs, a side project with guitarist Brendan Benson, bassist Jack Lawrence, and drummer Patrick Keeler best known for their 2006 debut single “Steady As She Goes”. Upon asking about the state of a new Raconteurs LP, White responded with uncertainty towards it, but noted that he’s been stockpiling songs for his various musical endeavors.

Fast forward to October, when his label Third Man Records announced the 38th edition of their quarterly “Vault” subscription service, which regularly gives subscribers access to exclusive live recordings, demos, and specially packaged studio albums on vinyl. Along with a 10th anniversary colored vinyl remaster of the Raconteurs’ Consolers of the Lonely, Vault package 38 contains a double A-side 7” single featuring their first material in a decade. Song titles weren’t announced until the package was shipped (mid-December), and music videos weren’t filmed until a week before digital release on December 19.

The verses of the Brendan Benson-led “Now That You’re Gone” question a past lover with inquiries such as “What you’re gonna do now that you’re gone?” and “Who’s gonna love you if it isn’t me?” The chorus focuses on the relationship’s downfall through the lens of the narrator, who’s “never known such unhappiness” and “never thought it would end like this.” The instrumentation is minimal, with mid-tempo drums and simple guitars, but ends in nuanced left/right musical interplay between guitarists White and Benson.

“Sunday Driver,” on the other hand, is a garage-rock jam laden with Jack White’s heavily distorted guitar effects and in the chorus, his signature vocal strains. While the lyrics aren’t too complex, fans alienated by the experimental sound of White’s Boarding House Reach will find this song a return to form. Patrick Keeler’s drumming exerts loose yet tightly controlled energy, while Brendan Benson’s rhythm guitar and Jack Lawrence’s bass perfectly complement each other, giving “Sunday Driver” the backbone it needs.

The 7” contains early mixes of both songs, which are quite unlike the digitally released final mixes. “Now That You’re Gone” features a woodwind, a different vocal take, louder drums, and fuzz bass on the final mix. Alternately, the early mix features a clean, fat bass sound, occasionally double-tracked vocals, and a better, more open sound. “Sunday Driver” on the final mix has a louder, isolated guitars, an alternate intro, different percussion in the chorus, more compression, and White’s guitar effects are more prominent throughout. Both mixes of each are great, but I prefer the early mixes that sparkle with air and a raw, untouched sound. “Now That You’re Gone” particularly shines with clean, dynamic guitars, and “Sunday Driver” appropriately exposes every ounce of feedback and excess drum ringing. Bring on the album, guys!

Devilscucumber's picture

Fantastic video, if this is the new Raconteurs its more interesting than anything else they have done. Up there with best of White Stripes and Dead Weather. Can't wait to see what the rest of the album sounds like.

Hergest's picture

I like that a lot. I wonder if it will be released as The Raconteurs here in Australia as the Broken Boy Soldiers album had to be released as being by The Saboteurs?

Hackmartian's picture

Don't know if you're reviewing that separately at some point, but the 10th Anniversary album sounds absolutely fantastic. Across the board, an incredible reissue.

MalachiLui's picture

I'm not planning to review it separately but it sounds good and the pressing quality from Third Man Pressing is top notch. I don't have an original pressing, so I can't compare.

Wimbo's picture

Good stuff.