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Band Dead Weather an appetizing blend (web exclusive)

BY RYAN FOSMARK | JULY 14, 2009 7:15 AM

Few musicians have ever managed to concoct a satisfactory supergroup which, by definition, must be a better band than whatever it stems from.

Velvet Revolver never lived up to the caliber of Stone Temple Pilots, not to mention Guns ‘N Roses. A Perfect Circle has some catchy tunes, but the members of the ancestral bands (Tool, Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins) couldn’t muster the synergy necessary to warrant the term “super.” Jack White, however, seems to have perfected the formula.

One cup of The Kills’ vocals mixed with grated and buttered Queens of the Stone Age guitar riffage baked in The Raconteurs’ oven produces a delicious dish dubbed The Dead Weather that leaves the listener stuffed and begging for seconds.

Horehound, the debut album by this new tasty team, was just released on Third Man Records which recently found a home in Nashville. In addition to pressing all three of his bands’ albums with the label, White also designed the new physical location of Third Man Records. The country-blues sounds that reverberate from Music City, USA inevitably found their way on to Horehound, managing to bring this synthesizer-heavy, gonzo/experimental sound careening back down to the rock side of the sonic spectrum.

A rumbling thunder of drum rolls and spacey guitar accents open Horehound — a signal that this is no reincarnation of the straight-forward beats and bluesy guitar lines of White’s earlier bands The Raconteurs and The White Stripes. Sure there is plenty of all that, but that’s just the crust. After a short time spent in the cosmic skies on “60 Feet Tall”, a barest of bones, delay-drenched guitar riff and drum stick click come out to play. Then, a demanding pound on the kit by White accompanies the soulfully sulfurous voice of The Kills’ Alison Mosshart. The introduction promises a musical eruption that is somewhat postponed, but effectively delivered by guitarist Dean Fertita, originally from Queens of the Stone Age.

Of course Jack White can play the drums. But who would have known he could play them well? Not just well, but the fills and tight syncopation in the second track, “Hang You from the Heavens” insist that the man’s got stupendous rhythm. The drum/bass/organ combo heard in the gonzo-inspired “I Cut like a Buffalo” demand a visceral, pulsating response from the listener. Oh, not to mention White, the new-found drum virtuoso, sings lead vocals on that track as well.

The MVP award of Horehound goes to Dean Fertita, without question. The angry yet buttery guitar sounds that pour from the Queens of the Stone Age’s albums Songs for the Deaf and Lullabies to Paralyze are reflected on Horehound via Fertita’s fiery fuzz riffs. However, the delay, reverb and other unnamed production tweaks on Fertita’s lines create something new and interesting, something expressive and experimental — something necessary for a band, and especially a supergroup, to do anything of note at all.


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