Review: The Dead Weather, Horehound

Posted: July 21, 2009 in Album Reviews


There are few musicians out there today who put out truly classic-sounding rock albums, but Jack White is certainly one of those musicians. Whether it be in his main band The White Stripes or his excellent side project The Raconteurs, White channels the spirit of Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and other great bands of the 60s and 70s without ever sounding totally derivative. White’s always been able to make old sounds fresh, and it’s a wonderful thing for rock purists such as myself.
His latest side project (seems unfair to call these bands side projects because they’re every bit as good as the White Stripes) is a band called The Dead Weather. While on a summer tour with the Raconteurs last year, White brought along the band The Kills as the opening act. I haven’t heard much of the Kills, but believe me I’m going to check them out for one reason – singer Alison Mosshart. Toward the end of the Raconteurs tour, White had a throat ailment and Mosshart stepped up to sing White’s songs. She developed a strong rapport with the Raconteurs, leading White to ask her to collaborate with him.
Joining the band was Raconteurs bass player Jack Lawrence and Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Dean Fertita and they recorded their debut album Horehound in three short weeks last November. White serves as the drummer and second vocalist, as well as the producer of the album. Mosshart sings lead on most of the tunes, but the combination of her and White’s voices is pure rock magic.
The Dead Weather’s sound is somewhat similar to that of the White Stripes and Raconteurs, but it’s much dirtier, with White’s muddy production helping the cause. This band can play raunchy blues, as evidenced by the wonderful album opener 60 Feet Tall. Here, there are several stops and starts, almost a musical tease if you will. It helps the cause of the song immensely as the momentum builds to a hot crescendo, with Fertita’s guitar screeching to life near the end of the track. As throughout the album, Mosshart’s vocals are sultry, raunchy, bluesy, downright awesome.
The first eight tracks go by in a flash, as you find yourself lost in the raucous menace this band achieves almost effortlessly.
On the track Treat Me Like Your Mother, White and Mosshart trade vocal barbs, with White (who uses a deeper register on this album than the almost Robert Plant like howl he employs in his other bands) shouting, almost in a rap “You blink when you breathe and you breathe when you lie, you blink when you lie,” a great kiss-off to an ex-girlfriend.
Another highlight is So Far from Your Weapon, written solely by Mosshart. It’s a slow, bluesy tune with effective echo vocals from White and the boys.
The band tackles an underrated Bob Dylan tune for the album’s only cover. New Pony is a track off one of Dylan’s most underappreciated albums, 1978’s Street Legal. When given the Dead Weather treatment, this track screams to life, with Mosshart yelping lines like “I’ve got a new pony, I call her Lucifer” and White responding “how much, how much, how much, longer?”.
While Mosshart and White are the album’s stars, Fertita and Lawrence are the glue that holds the project together. The musicianship here is first-rate all the way through, even though the album loses a bit of momentum by track 9, a decent but unneccessary instrumental 3 Birds.
But considering the band got together quickly and seemingly threw the record together, this is amazing stuff. One can’t help but wonder what they’d be able to do if they spent a little more time in the studio.
The Sod rating: ****

Ratings scale
***** Hall of Fame album
**** Perennial All-Star
*** Solid starter
** Bench warmer
* Casey Candaele and Doug Simons

  1. gravediggerhebner says:

    Thanks for the tip, I’ll have to check this out.

    I have no idea if there is any comparison since I haven’t heard any Dead Weather yet, but while reading your review the band Black Mountain came to mind. They have what I would call an “old” sound and also have male/female vocalists who sometimes interplay. Next time your looking to kill 6 minutes 45 seconds check out their “Set Us Free.”

  2. Andrew Sodergren says:

    Shame on you. I’ve alerted the grammar police of your transgression šŸ™‚

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