Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Dead Weather - Horehound


I have to preface my dissing of Jack White by giving you a bit of background.  A few years ago I was employed by a company who made radio programs, and as such I spent a large part of my time in a recording studio.  While we didn't record music as such, it gave me an insight into how music is mixed - and it gave me my own view of how each mix "feels".

As a musician and producer, YourZ understands this somewhat - although he has the disturbing talent of being able to isolate items in a mix and listen to them by themselves (weirdo) (YourZ sez: not weird, just incredibly talented, indelibly relevant, brilliantly handsome etc).  I just listen to the whole thing, and describe the mix according to where I feel it's coming from.  So, listening to Parliament involves a sound that wraps around my hips and wiggles my shoulders.  Most hard rock starts in the guts and involves the neck (they don't call it head-banging for nothing).  Jack White sits right in front of your eyes and says "LOOKATME LOOKATME LOOKATME".

I actually had to come home and put on Elephant to confirm that it's him, not the new combo that's responsible for this.  He pushes the percussion way up in the mix too, so it's like he's hitting that cymbal RIGHT NEXT TO MY EAR. (BTW Jack?  sounds a bit cheesy like that)

I really really wanted to like Horehound as I've not really given the White Stripes a fair go in the past and I've read so much about his love of analogue recording (my kinda guy!)  But listening to this made me wonder if every rock guitarist just wants to make his own Led Zeppelin album.  I'd classify this CD as "intellectual rock" - more of an exercise for those with the time and money to do so.  It's very clever, with an annoying number of time-signature changes (YourZ sez: I think you mean tempo changes as opposed to time changes but then, I am incredibly talented etc...) and some go-to-the-top-of-your-class syncopation.  What it's NOT is a bunch of rock songs, crafted and performed by a group who've worked on them over and over till they can't help but play them right.

I read in a review that the album was recorded in three weeks.  It sounds like it.

Also, the Mosshart-penned song So Far From Your Weapon sounds remarkably like a Michelle Shocked song dating back to the 80's - When I Grow Up.  That bothered me for days till I worked it out.  Ever have that happen to you?  Infuriating, isn't it?



Every generation has its pop stars, its movie stars and its icons, these days even more so, given how incredibly pervasive the cult of celebrity has become.  But true legends, ones who affect multiple generations are far less common.  In contemporary music, names such as Lennon, Bowie, Dylan and Marley, for example, are continually cited as being of such influence.

So if I had a time machine and I took a 50 year leap into the future, which names would future stars be lauding.  It would be fair to say there may be a few artists from the last few decades on the list and, if this is fair to say, then Jack White might well be one of those names.  Given Uncut recently named him Man Of The Decade, I don't have a problem with my speculation. (Mine says: but remember how many music magazines still fawn over Oasis, and we both know how talented THEY are)

But all this Jack White adulation aside, The Dead Weather comprise of three other very fine musicians: Alison Mosshart from The Kills, Dean Fertita from Queens Of The Stoneage and Jack Lawrence from The Raconteurs and The Greenhornes.  In the strictest sense, this is a supergroup as it comprises members of other established acts.  Often times this can be a recipe for something less than ordinary, but in this case, thankfully it proves to be more than the sum of its parts.

White's duties as drummer show yet another amazing weapon in his arsenal of awesomeness while Mosshart's voice, a favourite of mine for a few years now, sounds dirty and sexy and snarly all at the same time.  Coupled with the duel attack of Fertita's guitar and Lawrence's bass, this quartet's take on post-modern blues is simply fabulous.  In another blog, I'd named this album as one of my picks for 2009 and I stand by it.  From the infectious riff at the start of the first track, 60 Feet Tall to the final throes of the final track, Will There Be Enough Water, it never disappoints.


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  1. I absolutely love this album, and I love it more and more with each listen. It's a dirty sexy bluesy mix that continues to show Jack White's versatility. I'll admit that I fawn over Jack White like he's the next coming of Jesus, but I think there is some reasonable justification for being so fond of him. Absolutely everything he has touched he has made successful, and he's constantly evolving his sound and exploring new territories. I think he's one of the few mainstream pioneers of the current music scene. I feel that even his guitar playing goes unnoticed due to the simplicity of the Stripes. Far too many people who think whatever is mainstream automatically sucks fail to realize the sheer talent of Jack White. Alright, it's time for me to stop gushing... By the way, have you seen "It Might Get Loud"? It's fantastic!

  2. Oh yeah, and speaking of his love for analogue. Jack White knows how to put together an awesome package with his vinyls - Horehound included.

  3. I feel much the same way about Josh Homme. Both these men have been responsible for some of the best music of the last decade and I can't get enough although my hard rock leanings favour Josh over Jack but really, there is bugger all difference in terms of impact.

    It is his involvement in all parts of the process that impress me about Jack White. Is he single-handedly going to save the vinyl industry? Who knows but I'm sure he's going to do his best, regardless.

  4. Forgot to mention I've not seen 'It Might Get Loud'. Thanks for the heads up, though. I'm going to hunt it down as soon as I can.