Tanner Fogle

The Dead Weather – “Horehound”

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Collaborative temp work never sounded so raucous, so raw and so exquisitely well integrated; a sharp soul that “cuts like a buffalo.” Times are bleak for rock fans. Most offerings in the genre would seem to have been filtered through saccharine, carbonated by appearance-based forgettable concoctions that offer little more than sugar stroke.

Prepare for a type of sonic absolution with The Dead Weather’s “Horehound.” A hard outer shell of rock with a squishy blues cherry center. Don’t let the dreary Emo black and white cover fool you, this is not another post Goth depression fiasco for 13-year-old’s to cut themselves to. Rather it is a retreat to an almost classic image of bar room soul and cacophony.

The band is a composite with members such as Alison Mosshart from The Kills, Jack Lawrence and Dean Fertita from The Raconteurs and Jake White from the White Strips. Call it a temp band or call it oxygen at the bottom of an abyssal ocean cavern.

Alison’s is a voice of deadly habits, larger then the room and given to verbal onslaught that suggests great love or a thorough ass-kicking. Her voice is old, I don’t say that to be disparaging, I simply mean that it’s a tone that hasn’t been struck in the consumer market in a long while (not to my satisfaction anyway). When she kicks and shouts Bob Dylan’s New Pony you might think in terms of girlish irony or just out right naughtiness.

When she croons “treat me like your mother” the naughty thoughts subside and are replaced by psychological trauma. When she screams “I build a house for your bones” you feel in her possession. But regardless of the track the heavy combination of her mature vocals and compelling lyrics send you through and to the other side of rock ecstasy like bath tub gin and dirty anonymous pillow talk.

Jack Lawrence bass is ever present and often commands the pace again recalling a never docile blues reverence. Dean Fertita handles the majority of instrument diversity including the guitar that ranges from subtle to key, the piano and organ. Yes, the organ which is incorporated in such a way that it doesn’t suck. That’s the best that you can hope for this unique accompaniment. Ray Manzarek is spinning in his grave (career grave, I understand he’s not actually dead).

Perhaps the attraction nexus or selling point of this collaboration is Jack White. Not as a guitar lead, but as drum lead, a concept that is hard for some to grasp, but easy to except by the third track. In fact it is the drums that are more or less the focus through out the album, second only to Mosshart’s vocals (but not always second). Is Jack White a good drummer? Yes, depressingly so. Nice to know someone so known for their guitar playing can so easily step into the inconceivable like a pubescent millionaire who discovered the cure to cancer while playing with his mail-order chemistry set in his parents garage. White brings to the studio a steady wrist and a heavy hand, he has fluid timing and is bombastic when appropriate.

You might have surmised from my liberal use of the word “temp” that often a composite band with such strong ties to their source affiliations will only unite for a short term, making a sequel record a rarity. In the case of The Dead Weather hopefully this trend will be ignored. A powerful debut is a whiskey shot in want of a beer back, enjoy the burn.

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