Meg and Jack White are not.
Maybe one day, when the herd has thinned and the flashbulbs stop popping, John Anthony Gillis and Megan Martha White will discover pastels and clean up their act. Maybe they'll even get a bass player.
But I wouldn't hold my breath. They say it's lonely at the top, and that's probably true. But Jack and Meg ain't that lonesome yet.
Belle and Sebastian's Push Barman to Open Old Wounds CD and game
If nearly every Belle and Sebastian song corresponds to an event or period in your life-"The State I Am In," driving down a dark road in the Hudson Valley during a downpour with a sullen boyfriend, for example-then the 25 tracks on the two-disc Push Barman to Open Old Wounds, from their Jeepster EPs and singles, will be old hat. No matter. It's still a treat to walk down B&S memory lane. But more fun is the macabre Operation-like Open Old Wounds game on the band's website (www.belleandsebastian.com/oldwounds), which requires you to extract various objects-a vegetable pastie (kinda like a calzone), camera, paintbrush, etc.-from your patient as B&S music plays in the background. After Clock-ectomy ("You must remove the carriage clock from whence it has been shoved," the site instructs, in a winking reference to a B&S song), I stopped playing because the patient's screams were too much to bear on a sunny weekend morning. But if you've got the stomach to make it through all 10 levels, you might win some B&S swag. Album: A-; Game: A (Doree Shafrir)
Soul Fire: The Majestic Collection
This double-CD represents the death of a record label that actually deserves to live. For four years Soul Fire was one man's personal concept of what sounded good: funk, raw. Phillip Lehman, the label's visionary, obsessively collected obscure '70s vintage funk, the kind made in basements and garages and pressed in severely limited quantities. (Lehman's soul/jazz/Afro-beat/funk vinyl ran 20,000 deep.) He put together a house band made up of kids from New York and staged 24-hour sessions in his quest to recreate the same '70s funk sound. What came out was also released in vinyl, 45s and full-length LPs-and there was a lot of it. This collection, though, is Soul Fire's prime time. Disc one is made up of songs that could've been hits in the day with just the slightest nod to conformity; disc two spaces out completely, providing the perfect soundtrack for a funk man's daydream on a warm afternoon. With so much crappy soul/R&B/funk being released on major labels these days, we should all mourn the passing of unconventionality like this. B+ (Tim Whitaker)