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Pop Music | Under the Radar

The White Stripes Mark Their Territory With Raw Passion

February 11, 2001|SUSAN CARPENTER

Some songs have hooks. The White Stripes' have lassos--enormously compelling riffs that rope you in and don't let go.

Explosive, passionate, angry, raw, their music is classic rock in the truest sense, sewn from the souls of legendary Mississippi bluesmen and fleshed out with primitive but meaty rhythms.

Jack White, 25, a guitarist, pianist and singer who seems to be summoning the rock gods when he plays, leads the band, while his sister Meg keeps the beat, Moe Tucker-style.

Rough and rootsy, the Detroit duo's self-titled debut came out in 1999 on the Sympathy for the Record Industry label. It was followed a year later with the spit-shined and near-perfect "De Stijl," named after the 20th century art movement that is a metaphor for the band's stripped-down sound. The band next album, "White Blood Cells," is due this summer.

During a show at Spaceland in December, the two were all presence, no pretense. It was a rare display of humble showmanship as Jack bounced between two microphones singing and playing guitar, while Meg, pigtails swinging, beat on the drums with the enthusiasm of a child who'd learned them only yesterday.

They played as if they were oblivious to their talent and its effect on the audience--a sold-out crowd of seen-it-all Silver Lake hipsters who were so enrapt they mobbed the CD sales booth after the set and formed a line for Jack's autograph.

Groupies for an unknown band? In L.A.? The White Stripes won't stay a secret for long. *

* The White Stripes play March 1 and 2 at Spaceland, 1717 Silver Lake Blvd., L.A., 9 p.m. $10, March 1; $12, March 2. (213) 833-2843.

*

Under the Radar is an occasional feature that touches on pop acts, music and minutiae that elude the spotlight. Susan Carpenter is a Times staff writer who can be reached at Susan.Carpenter@latimes.com.

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