Posted by: willenvelope | July 17, 2008

Jim White

Jim White
Transnormal Skiperoo ( Luaka Bop, 2008 )

Unslushed because: Luaka Bop seems like a creative label. Colorful CD, albeit without liner notes. No other information, but a little graphic on the back says, “My Record Speaks for Itself.” So let’s see about that.

Factors not initially considered: This is Jim White’s fifth or sixth album; his first came out way back in 1997. He’s from the South, but then, so are a lot of people.

On further review: “Dixie is a scourge and a scar and a girl in my heart,” White sings in the opening lines to “Jailbird,” one of this mesmerizing album’s finest tracks. White’s Southern flavor is frequently described as gothic: After venturing forth from Pentacostal Florida to get his film degree at NYU, he apparently wound up depressed and broke—so it goes, I guess, when you trade one batshit environment for another. Then he surfed a lot, and then he almost lost his left hand on a band saw. At his best, all of that experience tumbles into the music: fervor, pain, bittersweet redemption, the smell of the city and the swell of the ocean, all encompassed by an assured cinematic vision.

With its found sounds and electronic blips, weird, dusty-sounding effects and gentle, songwriterly core, this is in the same musical territory as Virginian Mark Linkous’s Sparklehorse. But where Linkous acts out with occasional blasts of furious noise, White finds effective release through gospel-influenced tracks like “A Town Called Amen,” “Crash Into the Sun,” and “Take Me Away.” With the country “Turquoise House” and the sleek “Diamonds to Coal” offering further distillations of the long road White has traveled, this album just feels good—not because it’s explicitly uplifting or optimistic, but because it feels as if it’s made of all the good things music should be made of. It flashes with both intelligence and humility, to the point that it feels as if it has flesh and bone itself. And if the energy fades a little toward the end—the final three or four songs are pretty subdued—there’s a natural rhythm to Transnormal Skiperoo, a day-to-nightness, that just makes me want to play it through and start it all over again.

Jim White Web site

Jim White MySpace (check out “Jailbird” if you’re feeling mellow, “Crash Into the Sun” if you’re feeling up)



  1. Awesome choice, this one… I like your reviews!

    –Mista E-Dogg

  2. Good find! I have a couple of Jim White CDs. Haven’t listened to them for a while, but excellent stuff.

  3. I wanted to put up a new post today, but I also wanted to keep White at the top of the page. The song “Jailbird” has absolutely floored me. Without exaggeration, I’ve listened to it at least 25 times in the past day. Now I’m also getting into a 2006 album by Ollabelle, who provide some of White’s instrumental backing here. It’s good stuff too, if less weird.

    BTW, I typed you a letter, but still haven’t mailed it. I can’t find it!

  4. ha ha. Sounds like your place is as messy as ours. I’m just escaping a boot sale affair for a minute, having just carted two car loads of junk down to sell in the full knowledge that in a few hours I’ll be bringing at least a car and a half of it back!

    Why don’t you post that Jailbird song here? By the way, there’s another fantastic song called Jailbird by a weird folkette called Josephine Foster. A definite fave.

  5. […] quite dead. I may still use it as a platform for talking about the good finds, like Dolorean, the Jim White song “Jailbird,” or the outstanding debut by Johnny Flynn (or bong coasters). Maybe […]

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