Recently (just over a month ago, in fact), my faith in modern rock music was restored by Jack White, the lead singer and guitarist of two fantastic
bands, The Raconteurs and The White Stripes. This all started when I decided to listen to The Raconteurs’ latest album, “Consolers of the Lonely”, so I could write a review for my reviewing and publishing class. To make a long story short, I really, really liked the album. So much, in fact, that in the weeks that followed I was compelled to delve (with the help of YouTube) into the back catalogues of both The Raconteurs and White’s other (and more famous) band, The White Stripes. I’ve been hooked on both bands ever since. So of course I had to wonder, what could possibly better than Jack White, this awesome musician, being in two awesome bands? Two days ago, that question was answered. Jack White is now in three awesome bands.
White’s latest project is The Dead Weather, a band that, like The Raconteurs, might be called a “supergroup” — all the members have musical careers existing outside of the band. The line-up consists of Alison Mosshart from The Kills (who, like The White Stripes, are a male-female indie rock duo, but have a grittier, dirtier sound) on lead vocals, Jack Lawrence (a.k.a “Little Jack”, a.k.a. “LJ”) from The Greenhornes, Blanche, and The Raconteurs on bass, Dean Fertita from Queens of the Stone Age (who’s also been an auxiliary member of The Raconteurs, providing some extra instrumentation onstage and on some of their album tracks) on guitar, and Jack White on drums and vocals. Yes, that’s right: Jack White, an artist renowned for his guitar-playing (#17 in “Rolling Stone” magazine’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” list. Which is pretty impressive, although I don’t know if I agree with the decision to rank White above George Harrison, but that might be due to my own personal bias), is playing the drums this time around. Which is yet another reason for me to be excited about this band: I’m curious to hear White taking on an instrument he doesn’t typically play (although I’ve read that he started playing the drums even before he learned how to play the guitar). And don’t even get me started on how excited I was to hear that White’s fellow-Raconteur-named-Jack, Little Jack Lawrence, was going to be in this new band. Lawrence is my other favorite
member of The Raconteurs, mostly because he manages to make geekiness look just so darn cool.
Unfortunately, we have to wait until June for an album from these guys, but they have just released a single called “Hang You From the Heavens” which at the moment can only be purchased on i-tunes, along with a “B-side” (do people still call it that, now that most singles are released on media other than vinyl, therefore not having a second side, if any side at all?), a cover of Gary Numan’s “Are Friends Electric?” But if you’re an i-pod-resistant neophobe like me, fear not. Both of their songs can be heard on their website (http://thedeadweather.com/), which is where I went to listen. The website also has a really fun black-and-white video that plays on a continuous loop and serves sort of as a “music video” for both songs (or just goes on silently when neither song is playing).
“Hang You From the Heavens” starts with a loud, pulsing drumbeat that demands the listener’s attention, soon joined by a guitar so loud, so low, so distorted that it makes The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” sound like a bubblegum song. Mosshart’s voice comes in sounding defiant, agressive, uncompromising, not willing to take anyone’s crap. I’ve listened to the song now a couple of times, and I’m still not sure whether it’s her voice by itself or if she and White are singing in a very close harmony, because if I didn’t know that Mosshart sang the lead vocals, I would have assumed it was White singing. The vocals on this song sound almost exactly like White’s own singing voice, only maybe a little higher. So either Mosshart’s voice can sound an awful lot like White’s at times, or their voices are blended together so well that it sounds like one voice. Either way, it’s a good vocal. The lyrics convey a frustrating combination of intense love and intense hate, with lines like “I wanna grab you by the hair,/ And hang you up from the heavens.” The song is altogether loud and agressive, but at a slow and lazy tempo atypical of the average angry hard rock song. In my opinion, it’s a very promising first single. As for “Are Friends Electric?”, I can’t really say how faithful it is to the original Gary Numan song, since I’ve never heard the original, but it is a very cool-sounding song with a retro-futuristic vibe to it.