The Dead Weather: Horehound

[Third Man Records]

Jul 22, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Q: How many minor supergroups can Jack White assemble? A: All of them, apparently.

The Dead Weather is merely the latest installment of “What Will Jack Do Next?,” the novelty this time being that the vaunted frontman of The White Stripes and co-frontman of The Raconteurs is taking his place behind the drumkit, the most stereotypically invisible role within most bands except for those timekeepers blessed with outsized personalities (Keith Moon, Ringo Starr, John Bonham) or limitless talent (Neil Peart, Charlie Watts).

Amazingly, White falls into both categories, as he retains at least some of his frontman shimmer by singing lead on more than half of the songs on the band’s debut, Horehound, and by drumming with relentlessly rhythmic abandon throughout. White is joined in this endeavor by an interesting cast of characters: The Kills’ Alison Mosshart on vocals and guitar, Queens of the Stone Age’s Dean Fertita on guitar and keyboards and The Greenhornes/Raconteurs’ Jack Lawrence on bass (although all of them pull double duty on each other’s instruments).

In a lot of ways, The Dead Weather is a throwback to the ’60s sound of black Blues filtered through a psychedelic Hard Rock prism. Horehound is rife with sounds and songs that could have been outtakes from the earliest work of Led Zeppelin (“Treat Me Like Your Mother”) or Deep Purple (“I Cut Like a Buffalo”) or Canned Heat (“So Far From Your Weapon”) or Iron Butterfly (“60 Feet Tall”). And just like the best of that storied musical era, what The Dead Weather’s songs lack in contemplative craft they more than compensate for with visceral immediacy and breakneck spontaneity.

Horehound might not be a great artistic achievement but it is most assuredly a fun listen. Grade: B