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The Dead Weather
Horehound AP Childs , July 14th, 2009 10:06

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Given that Jack White's previous foray outside The White Stripes was the lamentable Raconteurs (one half-hearted summer festival sing-a-long such as 'Steady As She Goes' does not a great band make), it was hard not to shudder and fear the worst when he announced the onset of The Dead Weather. White's heightened position in the rock establishment now allows him to present us with yet another supergroup, those largely dull affairs that zap the life out of fans, press and A&R execs alike.

Yet alongside Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age), Raconteurs colleague Jack Lawrence and Alison Mosshart (The Kills), Jack White has seemingly knocked us for six with an album layered with his trademark swampiness but also a surprising depth of field in song craft, musicianship, space, time and lyrical content. The Dead Weather's Horehound is a complex affair, and indeed displays dour and downright depressing moments, but largely makes for a crackling listen, snapping and popping at you from the off. It elevates, disturbs, annoys and settles the soul in equal measures.

The band definitely belongs to White. He leads from the rear, allowing the mesmerising Mosshart to handle most of the vocal responsibility. Opener '60 Feet Tall' comes in slow but with a snarl, Mosshart displaying an earthy, laid back aplomb oddly reminiscent of Gene Vincent on 'Be Bop A Lula'. A silly pikan at the BBC recently suggested it was a mistake, and ruination of the project, to have Mosshart fronting this group. But her voice is not thin as some might say; it is deep, soul-edged, always tuneful and most importantly full of the blues.

Horehound moves on with a stroppy collision of crunchy Black Sabbath riffs, Led Zep licks and White's simple but powerhouse drumming. Mosshart's screeching vocals on single 'Treat Me Like Your Mother' smash and bash the listener to pieces. More exhilarating stuff comes with 'Rocking Horse', its robust groove followed by a raucous – and maybe misguided – take on Dylan's 'New Pony'. 'No Hassle Tonight' is a duff that clearly needs more work. The album, it's boasted, was apparently recorded in a fortnight – clearly a mistake when there are these signs of a job half done. The atmospheric maritime prayer 'Will There Be Enough Water?' tapers the album off with a nice enough feel; but unfortunately, it's something of an anti-climax. You're left wanting another track of the quality of 'Treat Me Like Your Mother' to seal the deal. Ne'mind.

With more thought and more time spent in the studio, and providing White stays put behind the drum kit rather letting his ego jump on the mic, it's possible that this could become more than a side project that, after one release, becomes dead in the water. Here's hoping we'll be seeing more of The Dead Weather.

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Patrick xx
Jul 14, 2009 8:13pm

Fully agree on the issue of time spent recording - at least one White Stripes album suffered the same fate of being woefully underdone. Not to mention the first Raconteurs album.

However, the Raconteurs seemed to learn their lesson for the second album, and they're great musicians, and tight-but-loose, and excellent live, and not lamentable at all.

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Young Gunner
Jul 15, 2009 10:25am

Hold on, the second Raconteurs album is great, save some of the Brendan Benson stuff.... Anyhow, this is on first listen (it's just on Spotify now) definitely above average too -- and it's definitely a positive that White is on the drums here - they're cranked right up in the mix - never a bad thing. Lots of space in the arrangements too. And can I hear a bit of PJ Harvey in there?

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Patrick xx
Jul 15, 2009 4:01pm

This is also the first Jack White project that could realistically be remixed by someone. And I really think The Dead Weather and the Beastie Boys should collaborate on an album.

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Jim Brackpool
Jul 15, 2009 5:02pm

What rot!? This is a miserable circle-jerk of a record.

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John Doran
Jul 15, 2009 5:03pm

Well said Jim. It's fucking awful isn't it?

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AP Childs
Jul 15, 2009 7:13pm

Merry men, I grew tired of the Stripes round about the time of Elephant. The gutteral yelps of JW, not to mention his tight tee-shirts, made me want to vomit. The Raconteurs - artless! So now I sing to the positive that White has placed himself as sticksman and has taken the feline rock frontage of Mosshart to the fold. I simply believe the current set-up could do something really good if they are to continue, with Beasties or not. Yeah, I dig it. All i'm saying with a little more tweaking you're likely to deveolp a fondness for the Dead Weather too. Be Bob A Lula!

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TheInfamousHootingOwl
Oct 30, 2009 7:23pm

I disagree, I feel 'Horehound' has an incredibly versatile sound, and although I love the crashing chords of 'Treat me like your Mother' I think the contasting bluesy atmosphere created in 'Will there be enough water'. I think that they did a better job than most recording, even in the two weeks.

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