To begin our countdown to the new musical year, I will be exploring ten 2009 releases by looking in-depth into their background, influences and personal evolution. The second album in this series is Horehound by The Dead Weather.
You may have heard of them if:
- You are a fan of any of the bands members: Jack White (The White Stripes, The Raconteurs), Alison Mosshart (Discount, The Kills), Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age), Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs, The Greenhornes).
- You are an avid reader of Rolling Stone or any other rock/indie music publication (they’ve been mentioned at the very least by Rolling Stone and Pitchfork).
- You’ve watched the second episode of — yet another thing about vampires — The Vampire Diaries (their first single, “Hang You from the Heavens,” was featured in Episode 2).
You may like them if you like: The White Stripes, The Kills, The Raconteurs, Queens of the Stone Age, The Black Keys or Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
How can a band that formed in March already have released their debut album, toured the US and Canada and have European venues scheduled for the next month and a half? I think it’s enough to say that Jack White just makes things happen.
For example, the longest The White Stripes ever took to record an album was three weeks. Once the Stripes took up a prolonged hiatus, White started right back up with The Raconteurs. It was only a matter of time before this aptly named “super group” hit the studio and the road.
The Dead Weather is part hard, part experimental, part blues and maybe part punk rock too. It’s a little darker than the bands its members have been in before. With experience on their shoulders, the band mates have been able to work with each other to create something they haven’t quite done before.
Something that may surprise any Jack White fan is that rather than taking over as frontman on his newest creation, he has stepped back, giving Mosshart the lead. Instead, he spends his efforts banging on the drums he had only played for a brief stint pre-White Stripes.
And while Jack’s few ventures on guitar and vocals are a treat to those who love him, there’s no denying Alison’s dynamism as lead singer and performer. Her voice has a strong and sexy resonance that drives every lyric straight through the bone. Her stage presence is even more remarkable. She jumps, climbs, walks, stalks and mesmerizes her audience the whole while through.
Jack joins Alison for duets on two songs and their chemistry is totally carnal. In “Treat Me Like Your Mother,” you’d swear the two are going through the most bitter falling out of the century, especially in the amazing shoot-out-fest of a music video. And throughout the final song off Horehound, “Will There Be Enough Water,” the two slowly seduce while crooning, “Just because you caught me, does that make it a sin?” Sexy.
And let’s not forget Fertita and Lawrence, whose guitar and bass (respectively) resonate power in every chord. Dean’s Queens of the Stone Age style comes through now and then, but there’s something new in it. It’s as if he’s added another layer and is really pouring it on thick. Meanwhile, Lawrence’s bass has lost its element of playfulness that came through with The Raconteurs and has deepened its edge. The result: a great combo to work with.
The greatness of The Dead Weather and therefore, of Horehound, is the way it erodes and evolves and becomes this brilliantly sinister lovechild of blues and hard rock — a blues-rock noir, if you will. They don’t really sound like anyone else around, and yet there’s something familiar in there.
Speaking of familiar, the even greater greatness of this perfect essence is the way the band gets along. Watching them “Hang You From the Heavens” and “Cut Like a Buffalo” on stage shows their daring showmanship, but at the end of the show, the four musicians gather together and accept the audience’s rambunctious applause arm in arm. It’s actually really adorable.
This video will tell you all you need to know, or at least make you laugh.