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Monday, August 24, 2009

"Living in a den of theives"

  • The Dead Weather - Horehound
  • The Fiery Furnaces - I'm Going Away
  • The Fiery Furnaces in general...
  • Universal Health Care
  • Pandora
  • Funny People
  • The Time Traveler's Wife
  • (500 Days) of Summer
  • The Jackson 5
  • Album Reviews
  • The constructs of family (continued)
I know the schedule changed, I bumped constructs of family back to the bottom, because right now I just don't have anything of value to add to it right now. Also, 'album reviews' will kind of be a crutch to land on if I don't feel like posting a day's given topic, or if I'm out of topics for any reason. Although, it will require a little planning ahead in that I'll have to have that CD loaded onto the laptop for listening in the morning so I can at least give you an educated review, not just make it up from memory. Today, however, we are going to review an album that I just got (like two weeks ago, but that's neither here nor there).

Anyways, the Dead Weather's Horehound.

For those of you who don't know, the Dead Weather is made up of Alison Mosshart (the Kills), Jack White (you know, THAT Jack White), Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age, Raconteurs), Jack Lawrence (Greenhornes, Raconteurs). Based on that line-up, I'm sure you can kind of hear the band in your mind, at least somewhat. The main influences come from blues rock (Jack White, your Led Zeppelin is showing) and some jazz fusion, particularly in the guitar work. There are two things that really stand out, the first is Jack White's drumming (oh yeah...he's the drummer). In most bands, the drummer is faded to the background from the studio, but really pull together a live show...on Horehound, they really let the drumming carry most of the songs, while everything else seemingly falls apart. The second thing is Alison Mosshart's voice. Anyone who has listened to the Kills know she has a strong voice, but here she takes it to another level entirely. If you've heard "Cat Claw" from the Kills' first album, you would recognize it instantly. If you've seen the Kills live (highly recommended it), you'll know it too. She brings an instantly sense of intensity and sexual tension to the stage, particularly on the duets where she subdues her sultry voice to a breathy, but forceful tone. Even on the songs with Jack White singing as well, who has a very unique voice all his own, all the attention falls on Mosshart and her amazing charisma.

The album opens with "60 Feet Tall", a slow builder not unlike The Kills' "Superstition" but the explosions are much stronger and tension much higher. Many of the songs, actually, are reminiscent of the Kills and almost make you wish that she didn't restrain herself so much for the Kills' material. Part of the Kills' appeal though, I think, is that you can sense that restraint on every song which gives that edge. Here, however, she lets it out and it carries just about every song.

The second song, "Hang You From the Heavens" is the clear single from the collection. What really is amazing about this album is how natural it feels. The band got together and wrote and recorded the whole thing in a matter of weeks, but it plays like an album that's as time tested as some of the best hard rock albums of the 70s. On this song, in particular, we get a strong sense of song structure and song writing ability rarely seen on the music scene these days. The start and stop of the guitars, the frustrated lyrics (it's kind of a twisted love song, in some ways), it all plays like something we've heard before, but shown in a new light.

"Cut Like a Buffalo" is a solid Jack White number, very rhythmic and fun. "So Far From Your Weapon" (Mosshart's sole individual contribution to the album) is a slow moving blues number, decent but a bit too restrained against its neighbors.

"Treat Me Like Your Mother" is by far the best song on the album. Actually, it's more like three songs with each verse, chorus and refrain clearly separated with tempo and key changes galore! It's a vicious assault on your ears and mind, just trying to keep up with everything going on. It's essentially a call and response for Mosshart and White. When they break it down from "M-A-N-I-P-U-LATE" to "Am I too late?" which goes into one of the best pure guitar solos of the past just makes your head spin.

"Rocking Horse" is a decent song, nothing to get excited about.

Jack White lets his Dylan show a little too on the ruckus "New Pony." It accomplishes what all covers should accomplish, which is make you want to go listen to the original and compare. The Dead Weather clearly bring a lot more energy to the affair (no pun intended, but the song is about having an affair) and Mosshart's voice probably shines more here than anywhere else on the record. The steady drumming and "how much longer" chants that make up the backbone of the song make for a great rock out experience.

"Bone House" is where the band starts to let out some of it's more primal sound without losing too much of the energy that they've built up to this point. "3 Birds" is a pleasant instrumental showing off the band's musicianship (as if there was any doubt). "No Hassle Night" is another one of those songs that they drift into the background versus the amazing collection surrounding it, but on any other bands' album it might just be the highlight. It speaks volumes to the talent in the room on this one where the subpar songs are still so good.

The album closes with the six minute "Will There Be Enough Water" which is just about as true to form as you can get for a blues song. The song wouldn't be out of place at some dirty southern bar in the 1930s by a blind guitarist. It's full of all the depression and hopelessness as the best of the genre. It's quiet and subdued, simple yet intriguing.

This is a very good album and I strongly recommend it. Highlights - "Treat Me Like Your Mother" "New Pony" "Will There Be Enough Water?"

Nathan out - ta.

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