Raconteurs cut to the chase with new album

Tue Mar 18, 2008 7:26pm EDT

Guitarist Jack White of the Raconteurs performs at the Virgin Festival in Baltimore, Maryland, September 23, 2006. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Guitarist Jack White of the Raconteurs performs at the Virgin Festival in Baltimore, Maryland, September 23, 2006.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

NEW YORK (Billboard) - Rock group the Raconteurs, whose members include Jack White of the White Stripes, is bypassing the standard months-long wait between finishing an album and releasing it with "Consolers of the Lonely," which will hit stores only weeks after completion.

The Third Man/Warner Bros. release, scheduled to hit retail shelves March 25, was completed the first week of March, according to a statement from the band.

"The purpose: to get the album to the fans as soon as possible and as we promised," the band says. "We wanted to get this record to fans, the press, radio, etc., all at the EXACT SAME TIME so that no one has an upper hand on anyone else regarding it's availability, reception or perception."

"Consolers" will be available on CD, vinyl and digital through leading retailers. "Some places couldn't move this fast, so they will join in as soon as they can," reads the statement, without elaboration.

The band's Web site will offer the album as a complete download in 320-kb fidelity. Individual tracks will be available at iTunes and Amazon.com. A video for the first single, "Salute Your Solution," will hit the Web on March 25.

The Raconteurs, a collaboration of White, Brendan Benson, Patrick Keeler and Jack Lawrence, released its debut album, "Broken Boy Soldiers," in May 2006. The band's move here extends the experimentation of acts like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails in delivering music outside the traditional label system.

"We wanted to explore the idea of releasing an album everywhere at once and THEN marketing and promoting it thereafter," the band says. "The Raconteurs would rather this release not be defined by its first-week sales, pre-release promotion or by someone defining it FOR YOU before you get to hear it."

While many of the indie retailers Billboard spoke with praised the band's approach, some questioned whether the rush strategy was a way to skirt potentially negative reviews.

"Are they rushing it because they think it'll get murdered?" asked Jim McGuinn, owner of Walla Walla, Washington, independent music store Hot Poop. "They have a good track record, but it could also just be a collection of leftovers. It's kind of like when bad movies are released without being screened for critics."

"I admire the band's attempt to keep it under wraps until the last minute and provide all formats at once," said Doyle Davis, co-owner of Nashville's Grimey's. "We've been trying to get vinyl to (go on sale) the same day as CD as much as possible, and I'm ecstatic over the fact that here's a release that doesn't go to iTunes a month before I get to sell it."

"Typically with a major-label setup, the single is out a month or more at radio before we get anything to sell," said Carl Mello, head of purchasing at Newbury Comics. "All that time, people are coming in but we can't sell them anything because it's not out yet. Now, with the Raconteurs, they can hear the song on the radio, come in, and it's right there for purchase."

Reuters/Billboard

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