"Horehound" by The Dead Weather

The Dead Weather
Horehound

Third Man Records
2009

Review

o you take a member from The Kills (Alison Mosshart), The White Stripes (Jack White), The Greenhornes (Jack Lawrence), and the Queens of The Stone Age (Dean Ferita) and you get an album that - while unmistakably produced by Jack White - sounds like it had little to do with any of the bands from whence the members were pilfered (so to speak). Nope, here you get a completely different animal - one that feeds on whiskey and wants to sweat in a hot dive bar with no AC in the middle of the summer. At least that's how it felt for me. This album oozes the blues and Alison has never sounded more sultry (Don't believe me? Take a listen to "So Far From Your Weapon"). Naturally, there are some fantastic guitar moments on here as well but overall it is amazing to me how in sync these musicians sound in spite of not being together for very long. It is clear to me that they all knew what they wanted to create and because of that they have created something that stands well enough on its own and won't likely generate comparisons to the music they have created outside the group.

The album opens with one of the best tracks on the album - "60 Feet Tall" - a track with a great, ominous and bluesy feel to it. Here you get the song slow-build. Hot and heavy singing - You got the kind of loving I need constantly - that rises with the coming of the drums and the increasingly frenetic guitar and bass lines - until it all of a sudden - BOOM! - heavy hard driving blues guitar crescendo that then drops away only to come back yet again for an encore. Amazing stuff. I think I would have paid $10 just for that one track. Lucky for me things were just getting started. Other standouts for me were "Hang You From The Heavens", "So Far From Your Weapon" and "No Hassle Night".

I gotta say, I love what having a woman front a Rock band brings to the table lyrically. Take the following from "Hang You From The Heavens":

I never know what I'm gonna do
I say I'm leaving but it ain't true
I got a lot I could do to you
Nothing you can do to stop it
I want to grab you by the hair
And hang you up from the heavens

There's just something about hearing a woman sing those lyrics that you wouldn't get if it was a man singing them.

It's a weird thing for me to say that the tracks I loved the most are the ones where Jack White stays off the microphone and sticks to production and playing an instrument. Alison does a tremendous job on the vocals (again especially on "So Far From Your Weapon" - that song for me is her best vocal performance yet) and I felt like the songs where she's really allowed to handle vocal duties are far and away the best on the album. There's also a real egalitarian quality to these songs as well where each instrument (including her voice) is equally important. The songs where Jack White spazzes out a bit kind of lose that quality and as a result didn't hold my attention as much (well, maybe except for the Jack White does reggae song "I Cut Like A Buffalo").

I won't say that this album will be a massive hit. There just isn't much here that is going to be blatantly accessible enough to be played on today's Rock-radio (even with a short film appearing on Cinemax) and to me, that is a real shame. I guess "Treat Me Like Your Mother" is the closest this album is going to get to radio-friendly but even that song gets crazier than anything you are going to hear on the airwaves. But there is something special here and perhaps the highest compliment that I can pay this band is that I am dying to see them live. For now, I'll have to settle for the album and bootlegs like this:

...yeah, pick it up. You won't be sorry.

4.182 out of 5

Track Ratings

1. 60 Feet Tall (05:33) 5
2. Hang You From the Heavens (03:37) 5
3. I Cut Like a Buffalo (03:27) 4
4. So Far From Your Weapon (03:40) 5
5. Treat Me Like Your Mother (04:10) 4
6. Rocking Horse (02:59) 3
7. New Pony (03:58) 4
8. Bone House (03:26) 4
9. 3 Birds (03:44) 3
10. No Hassle Night (02:55) 5
11. Will There Be Enough Water? (06:20) 4