Village Voice Review of White Stripes’ “Icky Thump” Biased?

A reader writes in:

Did you happen to see this comment on The Village Voice review of Icky Thump by Nate Cavalieri? It seems like reviewer Mr. Cavalieri has worked with Jim Diamond in the past (Diamond famously sued Jack White). It is difficult to say what Mr. Cavalieri’s relationship with Diamond is like now, However it seems to be bad journalism on the part of the village voice to have a potentially biased person (whether it be positive or negative bias) review an album. I can’t help but feel reading the review that there was sort of ulterior motive since it was so malicious. It is interesting to note that Cavalieri has worked with Diamond in the past and he essentially says in his review that Jack’s best work are essentially in the days when Diamond engineered his albums. It is a bit suspect, they essentially gave the album a score of 30/100 a score that seems remarkably low even if you didn’t enjoy the album.

Of course bias is an inevitability in journalism, but it seems like you might be able to do something it either with your blog or by making a phone call to the Village Voice asking for a comment. Whether or not the village voice is aware of the potential bias, perhaps they should be made aware. I would do it myself but i don’t have an influential blog or anything like that, and this seems to be important. The sad thing is that the metacritic tabulation of nationwide reviews for the album are absolutely fantastic, however the Village Voice review pulls down the weighted average score of the album to 80 (Generally favorable reviews) as opposed to Get Behind Me Satan’s status of “Universal Acclaim”. Let me know what your thoughts on this, if you’d like.

“Nate, are you being totally honest here? Is this album really that bad? Or do you have close personal ties to someone who sued the White Stripes last year, and lost?

Something (Diamond v. Gillis, Case Number: 04-73889, U.S. Dist. Ct. for the Eastern Dist. of Michigan) tells me it’s the latter.

I would be more prone to believe your scathing review of Icky Thump if you were not so blatantly compromising your integrity. You seem to be hiding something and you are misleading your readers.

Fellow readers, in the interest of full disclosure, Mr. Cavalieri was a former organist/ keyboardist with The Sights, who were produced at Ghetto Recorders studio owned by Jim Diamond, who sued the White Stripes for royalties just last year. Mr. Diamond lost his case in a jury trial. He was awarded nothing.

In Detroit, the music scene is a small world, and Mr. Cavalieri’s path often crossed with Mr. Diamond’s, beyond a Sights connection.

Mr Cavalieri, you are not in the position to be judging this album. As a critic, you are obviously not expected to like all albums you come across. And as a native Detroiter, it’s actually refreshing that you don’t just toss 4 stars in the general direction of every Detroit band that releases an album. The problem with this review is that you are knowingly vulnerable to a serious bias, yet you failed to clue in your loyal readers to your potential (likely?) sway.

Perhaps your next review will be more honest and accurate. In the meantime, you have denied your readers an honest review of a (damn good) album.

Oh well.”

Do you cry foul also?

Published by Laura

I run The Modern

30 replies on “Village Voice Review of White Stripes’ “Icky Thump” Biased?”

  1. Umm, since when does the fact that the dude’s band was produced in a studio owned by a guy that sued Jack White mean that there’s a conflict of interest? I’m sure there are thousands of musicians who have worked out of that studio — are all of them biased against everyone Jim Diamond has had a dispute with?

    That’s preposterous. Unless there’s additional evidence of bias, this all seems like a fanboy who’s upset that his favorite band got a band review.

  2. Well’s there’s also the thing about Jack getting into a fight with one of the Sights at a bowling alley. (I forget what exactly the story was.)

  3. Well there’s also the thing about Jack getting into a fight with one of the Sights at a bowling alley. (I forget what exactly the story was.)

  4. i never heard of jack getting into a fight with the sights at a bowling alley, but if that is true, that’d put a whole new spin on this story. can anyone confirm that?

  5. An anonymous someone made this public during Jack vs. Jason. Jack allegedly roughed up former Sights drummer Dave Shettler. Dave was spinning records at the Magic Stick when Jack confronted him over a borrowed bowling ball. I don’t know if it’s true, but how very Jack if it is.

  6. Reading this village voice article only saddens me because it seems like jack can move hundreds of miles away to Nashville and still not escape the wrath of people from Detroit who continue to stab him in the back. In this case, they get jobs at prestigious papers and write malicious articles about him. If only they would refocus that energy into something positive.

    Now we’ll wait and see if VV has any integrity.

  7. good work! we should start a petition to have that guy apologize…or fired…or beaten to death like they do in my country.

  8. All I know is something’s fishy with the low rating. I think the media is beginning to orchestrate the perfunctory backlash. Too bad the band is bigger than the bitterness.

  9. I wrote a letter to the Village Voice about this the day the review was posted online. They did not respond.
    Anyone who feels strongly about the motives behind this review should contact the Voice and request they consider a retraction based on bias. Would they let one of Jack’s friends write a review, say Brendan maybe? Of course not. The results could be eschew based upon Brendan’s fondness for his friend. With the same token in mind, then how is it Ok to let someone who has negative feelings about Jack review his work? This “review” sounds angry and bitter and has the strong stench of backlash. Like Chris Handyside’s review of GBMS 2 years ago in the Metro Times it is colored by undue negativity. I’m very disappointed in the VV, with some reader outcry though perhaps they would look at the situation more closely. Maybe not. It also bears mention that the same week two other Voice writers wrote great pieces on their admiration of the Stripes. One from someone who despite a bad experience with Jack on the Denial Twist video shoot really admires Icky Thump. For more proof of bad feelings however from Nick Cavalieri with regards to The Stripes, read his review of Icky Thump in the Detroit Metro Times. More bitter vitriol. The Voice should be ashamed to allow this to play out under the cloak of their publication.

  10. And besides, Jack is not a fighter. NOT an asshole. Anyone can be pushed to their limit and he’s no exception. I live in Nashville and here he’s just out there hanging around like he’s nothing special. Very cool attitude. The new album is about the SONGS and the SOUND, and it’s never been better.

  11. Yeah, “Status Ain’t Hood” from the village voice blogs gave the album a rave review despite his minor clash with jack (it takes a lot of humility to give an honest and positive review despite this), and another village voice review gave a glowing review of their recent Iriving plaza show. If you saw Cavalieri’s article on the stripes proclaiming them to be has-beens and then the review of their show which claims they still got it, you’d be extremely confused over the official stance of the village voice on the band. has beens or not?

    Also Status Aint Hood seems like a good guy, he never said anything malicious towards jack, and at worst spoiled some surprises about a video which was ultimately not one of their best videos (in my opinion)

    Status Aint hood > Nate Cavalieri

  12. I think I saw Jack at a JEFF show at The End (of course). No one cares if someone’s a celeb in Nashville, maybe that’s why he moved here. (not a lot of other reasons, really).

  13. I heard that he helped JEFF make the Noo Sixties video. It seems like the kind of thing he’d do. I saw WS at the Cannery before the album came out and it was obvious how extremely good the new songs were. The crowd went nuts over them. The VV review is bullshit.

  14. if the lead off single is an indicator to what the album may be like than yeah 30 out of a 100 is fine with me, his shallow attempt at saying something political made me feel embarrased for him, also the way the parts just smash together makes it feel like a half realized idea, i hate when he says LA la la la la la and in the video when he says “you cant be a pimp and a prostitute too” he puts his finger to his mouth and it makes be think of eminem ,clearly the early stuff was better.but i havent heard the whole new album so i dont wanna pass to much judgement

  15. I would have to agree with the comment of No. 18 regarding the album. I also find the earlier stuff better most especially the lyrics, they are more stripped down, raw, simpler and minimal before combined with very good wordplay of honest lyrics. But this album does offer some pleasantries—for me, the Catch Hell Blues and not the lead off single does that though it had very few lyrics but amazing guitar work. The album is still good, although I thought some of the good songs were experimented on which could have been otherwise more palatable to new converts. Sorry this has not been about the article, doesn’t bother me.

  16. At least Cavalieri listened to the album before he reviewed it and knows how to make a sentence.

  17. Haha. No. Cavalieri clearly has/had an agenda in his reviews of Icky Thump. His reviews in Village Voice and Metro Times are clearly composed to try to take the Stripes down a notch on the critical ladder. I was uncomfortable reading it. This man is pissed off and bitter and it is oozing from his words. What’s amusing I guess is that people get all ramped up about this and Jack could probably give a hang. Still, on the subject of journalistic integrity, this man has none now. I will never take anything he writes seriously.

  18. oh justin kelly (comment 18), listen to the album then make up your mind. (ha!)

    first of all the first single is great, although it is just a bit played out by now. you’ll love the second single (you don’t know what love is) the interesting thing about the the opening song of the album (icky thump) is that he opens the album that only briefly features a liberal stance on immigration, but then closes the album with a brief mention of a conservative stance on abortion (you don’t blame a baby, for her pregnant mom).

    Each stance is thoughtfully presented in a way that doesn’t dominate the song. If you bothered to listen to the album you’d have realized it was part of something that only made sense if you listened to the album.

    Again, a lot of the band is about the duality of jack and meg, opposing view points, and more. This album is an extension of those white stripes motifs.

    Also i’m not a fan of the video either, but what does that have to do with the music?

  19. I’m a fan of the stripped down sound of the White Stripes and throughout thier albums, they have always pushed the envelope. I think this album is very much Jack and Meg letting rip in the studio whereas with thier previous albums, esp Get Behind Me Satan, they were digging out thier niche. Still with me? Good.
    This album is riotous, the lyrics are all over the show and there isn’t really a flow as felt in thier previous work. But as a stand alone record, it rocks out!
    I still prefer White Blood Cells and Get Behind Me Satan though.

    As for biased reviews – I agree. You can’t review an album through the tinted view of politics. Just review the music.

  20. yeah, as much as i loved the excursions of gbms and icky thump, i would love to see a strictly guitar/drums album with ocasional piano thrown in. also an album with about 17 songs like the debut.

    take, take, take..

  21. I have no problem with anyone who doesn’t like the record, I think it’s pretty good myself, but Nate’s review follows the pattern of another alleged reviewer from Detroit who did the same thing for the Satan record… Chrissy Handysides(I am sure he’s happy I mention his name). Borderline personal attacks, the way these reviews read, lame and cowardly.

    Ahhh…we all just couldn’t get our piece of the pie in the D.

  22. I do not find it biased as a matter of fact, the reviewer makes valid points, I might add, much of the album does sound borrowed, every song I listen to I can come up with where I’ve heard that riff or melody before… even some they rip themselves off. I still love the album (though I am disapointed in the bluesy songs they shell out on this one) I can never say anything too bad about them, though all aritsts eventually seem to become parodies of themselves…Ohhhh weeeelllll.

  23. The White Stripes have always borrowed, sometimes even from themselves. This is nothing new. I could respect the reviewer’s opinion if he didn’t have a factual negative history with Jack and his words didn’t ooze PERSONAL bitterness. This review is the definition of negative bias and veiled personal attack. Sheer textbook example of bad journalism. This isn’t some bozo’s blogspot or livejournal opinion. I can’t believe the Village Voice is letting it stand. What a bunch of hacks.

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