What do you get when you combine The Kills, The White Stripes, Queens of the Stone Age and The Greenhornes? A fuzzy, alt-rock supergroup known as The Dead Weather.
Like Damn Yankees and The Travelling Willburys before them, The Dead Weather are intent on taking over the world with their collective super-rock-powers. The reason we give a shit about this band is Jack White's influence, acting as the drummer for this particular ride through the band's debut Horehound.
Here's the deal with The Dead Weather -- the idea is a noble one, and White's name gives it a foothold in the genre, but it falls short of actually opening any new doors for alternative/rock music (as well as falling short of warranting multiple listens). It is interesting, however, to listen to four talented musicians murder unnatural instruments throughout the course of the album.
The Dead Weather is hardly an inspired name -- sounding like they ripped off Dead Meadow -- but I'll give it up for naming the album Horehound. The band consists of Alison Mosshart (The Kills) on vocals, Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age) on guitar, Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs, The Greenhornes) on bass and Jack White (The White Stripes, the movie Cold Mountain) on drums. I'd like to say White sticks to drums the whole album, but he butts his way into singing on a few songs throughout the album.
Therein lies the problem -- Mosshart is brilliant as the singer for the band, but she will forever be overshadowed by White and his accomplishments as singer for The White Stripes and The Raconteurs. This is not helped when White comes on to sing on songs like "I Cut Like a Buffalo" and "Rocking Horse." His drumming is actually quite good throughout the album, as is Lawrence's bass, but neither hold a candle to Fertita's stellar rock guitar playing.
Fertita makes this known on the album's first track "60 Feet Tall," creating meandering -- yet absolutely ruthless -- fuzzed-out rock guitars that act as foreshadowing for the true sound of the rest of the album. He is a special talent, and she clobbers listeners over their heads with his display. Following up "60 Feet Tall" is the album's lead single, "Hang You From The Heavens," a smart, straightforward rock song. It's one of the album's best tracks -- unfortunately it comes early in the album, setting the bar way too high for the rest of the album. The band's singular brilliance on this track does not hold up for the album's entirety, and that's a real shame because White's tutelage could have turned this album into a technical masterpiece.
Instead, we have four supremely talented musicians who are all subconsciously trying to one-up each other, and the supergroup vibe is readily apparent. I know Kings of Leon and My Morning Jacket, among others, have turned this Southern-fuzzed rock style into mainstream successes, but I wonder why exactly The Dead Weather went down this road for their debut LP. Perhaps it's what they all know best -- something that couldn't be further from the truth for Mosshart and Fertita's respective bands -- but then again, none of them can hold a candle to Jack White's career. He is the bossman for this album, and that is something categorically undeniable throughout the duration of Horehound.
Horehound is out today on Third Man Records.
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