Thursday, 16 July 2009

The Dead Weather - Horehound Album Review (2009)

Jack White has many fingers in many pies but you know that when he forms a new band the results will be outstanding. Leaving The White Stripes and The Raconteurs behind for now, White teams up with The Kills Alison Mosshart, guitarist Dean Fertita from Queens Of The Stone Age and Raconteurs teamster Jack Lawrence to form The Dead Weather. The band’s debut album is Horehound and is as expected a Stripes-esque dirty blues guitar record with added sultry overtones from the wonderful Mosshart.

For the most part Horehound is like PJ Harvey fronting The Black Keys. Kicking off in style with the stuttering fragile blues of 60 Feet Tall, Mosshart is sounding superb, as is the blistering guitar solo. Hang You From The Heavens is another great Fertita/Mosshart collaboration. The only track on the album exclusively provided by White is the intense organ grind of I Cut Like A Buffalo complete with Nick Cave arrangement and weird edges.

So Far From Your Weapon builds from vocal interplay to crashing drums. Again Mosshart is on brilliant form, down and dirty and delivering a powerful chorus. Treat Me Like Your Mother is familiar Stripes territory with added guitars and electronica and everyone playing their part - astonishing guitar work but the tin-pot drums could use a finer mix. Mosshart is joined by White for vocals and the last minute descends into RATM. The duel vocals continue with Rocking Horse with an old west horror-movie groove leading from one horse to another in the form of Dylan’s New Pony, and more great backing vocals.

The huge electronics and distortion of Bone House leads into the bass-driven dub instrumental 3 Birds. Veering off into Spanish guitars briefly, the song steers a steady course before the big finale. No Hassle Night is deep and dark, if a little dull but the closer Will There Be Enough Water? is truly compelling; menacing and brooding, all atmospheric guitars.

Horehound, and the formation of The Dead Weather is further proof that Jack White is a driving force. Mosshart has never sounded better - she really needs to get back to Jamie Hince and put this much energy and contribution into the next Kills record. White and Fertita provide excellent guitar work, produced but raw and edgy, like the vocals throughout. And Lawrence is a magnificent bassist, ever-present but never over-present. He and White deliver some neat drums to complete the ensemble. But it is Fertita who shines with the addition of piano and synths - changing the mood constantly.

The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather? Who cares, as long as Jack White is making music and getting this much out of his fellow musicians.

-- CS (for TMM)

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