Kate Moss must seriously be plotting to destroy one of my favorite bands. First she annihilates a bunch of brand-spanking-new Kills songs before they make it to the album, and now…NOW I hear that she’s trying to weasel her way into the band while Alison Mosshart’s gone off to play with Jack White for a spell. I hope the rumors aren’t true that Jamie Hince is actually looking for a female singer to replace Alison Mosshart. Alison and Jamie are The Kills. And anyway, I thought Alison was only taking a temporary hiatus from the band to tour with The Dead Weather (all those other guys have other bands too, after all). And who the heck does Kate Moss think she is, anyway, thinking she could replace Alison? Earth to Kate: Alison Mosshart has real talent; she doesn’t have to settle for making a living as a walking, talking, coke-sniffing, spotlight-stealing mannequin. And if that weren’t bad enough, while doing some research (courtesy of Google) to find out more about Kate’s apparent plans to further sabotage The Kills, I also found some rumors that Kate and Jamie just might be engaged. I think I may gag. Jamie, you seem like an intelligent enough man. Do the smart thing and dump that glorified skeleton before it’s too late.
Ever since March, when word got out that Jack White had formed a new band called The Dead Weather, I’d been anxiously awaiting the release of their debut album, Horehound. Around that time I had started regarding Mr. White as the savior of high-quality rock and roll in this era of overall musical mediocrity, so naturally my expectations were high from the start. Now that I’ve finally gotten Horehound and have listened to it, I am amazed to say that the album has exceeded those already astronomical expectations. I have to admit, I was a bit apprehensive when I looked through the insert before putting on the CD (as I’ve mentioned before, the pre-listen glance through the insert is a new-CD ritual for me) and upon skimming the lyrics realized that pretty much all the songs (with the exception of “3 Birds”, which has no lyrics) have similar subject matter: almost all the songs seem to be about someone in a mutually abusive, destructive, and/or sadomasochistic relationship. I wondered if The Dead Weather’s music would be interesting enough to carry a common theme without sounding monotonous. After listening to their album a couple of times, I can confidently say that they’ve succeeded.
There was a time when I referred to The Dead Weather as “Jack White’s new band.” I have since seen the error of my ways, as this description doesn’t do the band justice. Perhaps the biggest surprise I came across whilst listening to Horehound is that Jack White, much as I revere him and his seemingly boundless talent, is not the most impressive part of The Dead Weather. Don’t get me wrong, his drumming is fantastic, and not just for a guy who’s mainly recognized as a guitarist. It’s just that, on the few opportunities that White gets to provide lead vocals (with the exception of “Will There Be Enough Water?”), he comes off as…well…kind of annoying. I’m not saying that his vocal itself is annoying; I’ve always been a fan of White’s voice and one album isn’t going to change that. But “I Cut Like a Buffalo,” on which White provides lead vocals throughout, could have been a pretty good song if it didn’t feature the sound of simulated choking, which is at best unnecessary, and at worst downright disturbing. Then there’s “Treat Me Like Your Mother” and “Rocking Horse,” on which lead vocals alternate between White and Mosshart. In the former, the verses sung by Mosshart alone are great, and the part where she and White simultaneously spell “M-A-N-I-P-U-late” is pretty good, but the “Who’s got it figured out?” rap segments of the song, performed primarily by White, are less than extraordinary. As for the latter, the only real problem I have with that one is the very fact that the lead vocals do alternate, and a bit too frequently (in the first couple of verses, the vocals are swapped every two or three lines). I honestly think the song would sound much better if only one of the two members provided the lead vocals, or at least alternated every verse instead of every few lines. But hey, that’s just me.
No, the member of the band who steals the show – quite possibly the only person who could ever upstage Jack White…well, short of Bob Dylan, Loretta Lynn, or Mick Jagger – is Alison Mosshart, hands down. Her vocals – which sound like the love-child of Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison – suit the band’s dark and heavy blues-rock sound perfectly. At times, the band even sounds like a modern, female-fronted equivalent of The Doors. This is especially true for the songs “So Far from Your Weapon” and “No Hassle Night.” In my humble opinion, the former is the best song on the album, with the slowly building music and threatening lyric (sample: “There’s a bullet in my pocket burnin’ a hole. / You’re so far from your weapon and the place you were born.”) meshing perfectly with Mosshart’s low, seductive lead vocal, which is complemented perfectly in a call-and-response between her and all three of the other members. Another high point on the album is the opening track, “60 Feet Tall,” in which Mosshart confidently wails to a lover who’s “cruel and shameless…cold and dangerous” that she’s up for the challenge: “I can take the trouble, / I’m 60 feet tall!” The album’s closing track, “Will There Be Enough Water?” also stands out. It’s long and slow, not as heavy as the other songs on Horehound, and reminiscent of Bob Dylan (one could even say the lyric makes reference to an early Bob Dylan song, “When the Ship Comes In.” And knowing what a huge influence Dylan has had on White, it’s probably a conscious reference). The song features Jack White on the lead vocal, singing what Jack White, after all, sings best: pure blues-rock. After the song fades out, the sound of crickets can be heard for several seconds before the album finishes completely. Quite a marvelous way to finish a great album.
Those of us who’ve waited as long for Horehound as I have were teased with a couple of singles and maybe a handful of live performances posted on YouTube while we waited. Yet the two songs that were released as singles so far (“Hang You From the Heavens” and “Treat Me Like Your Mother”), though both fairly good, don’t even begin to demonstrate how great The Dead Weather really are. If you haven’t gotten Horehound yet, and you’re into hard rock and/or blues, or are otherwise open-minded when it comes to music, I would highly recommend that you run – don’t walk – to your nearest music-selling establishment as soon as possible and get Horehound.
Fear and Loathing in Dead Weatherville -or- Looks Like Jack White’s Finally Lost His Marbles in the Best Possible Way -or- All Work and No Play Make Jack Forget About Corn July 15, 2009
While I’m still anxiously awaiting the copy of Horehound I pre-ordered a couple of months ago (the album was released in the US yesterday), I’ve gotten hooked on this short interview video of The Dead Weather. And look what all work and no play have done to our dear Jack…soon he’ll be chopping through doors with an axe and maniacally yelling catch phrases from prime-time talk shows (my money’s on Conan. They have a history, those two). Yes, I think Jack has finally lost it…and I’m kind of loving it. Either that, or he’s started smoking the ol’ ganja (nah…). The eerie organ music (provided by The Dead Weather’s bespectacled bassist and resident Zen philosopher, Little Jack Lawrence), the yellow haze, and the impression the band and interviewer give off of being stoned (although more likely than not, they’re just drunk and/or in a goofy mood) all give this video the feel of a deleted scene from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. In this video, you get to witness Jack White saying an R-rated word (and I always had Alison pegged as the potty-mouth of the group), imitating a ferocious bear, getting a popular piano man confused with a character from a Bobbie Gentry song, and forgetting about corn. You heard me. Don’t ask questions, just watch and enjoy.
(Sigh)…maybe my Horehound will come tomorrow…
I Officially Hate Kate Moss. June 25, 2009
And no, not because I’m jealous of her fame, material wealth, or tall stature, nor that she gets to hang out with some of the coolest musicians (i.e. The Kills. More about them later) and actors (i.e. Johnny Depp…well, maybe not anymore) under the age of 50. No, not even because a perfectly good White Stripes cover of a perfectly good Burt Bacharach composition was sabotaged by Moss’s skeletal, lingerie-clad, pole-dancing frame being the main focus in the video (though believe me, that did not make my opinion of her any more favorable. Nevertheless, it’s Sofia Coppola, the video’s director, who is truly deserving of my rage, as she was the one who came up with the video’s concept. I don’t care who her father is, that video was a disgrace). No, the reason why I now passionately despise that woman is because she has caused a delay in the production, and ultimately the release, of The Kills’ next album.
See, what happened was, Moss and her current boyfriend Jamie Hince (the male half of The Kills; the female half being Alison Mosshart, who’s currently fronting The Dead Weather) were having some kind of poolside tiff (note to self: never get into a fight with someone anywhere near a pool. There’s just to much potential for disaster) which resulted in Moss throwing a bag of Hince’s into the pool, unaware that that bag contained a laptop computer, and that Hince had saved several recordings of new songs by The Kills. Unfortunately, these files were not only destroyed, but they had not been saved to any other source (yet another reason why I’m somewhat technophobic;
the thought that anyone would record and save songs on a single computer, especially a type of computer with a lightweight and aerodynamic form that facilitates its being hurled into a swimming pool, freaks me out). So thanks a whole lot, Kate Moss, for making me wait for the next Kills album. And just because she was unaware of the bag’s contents doesn’t give her any excuse. You just don’t go throwing bags into pools, especially if you have no idea what could be in them, maybe something important, hmm? I bet Kate Moss would flip her lid if Jamie Hince threw one of her purses in the water, even if it just contained her cosmetics (especially since, if the above picture is any indication, Moss’s public image would probably suffer big-time if she had to go for the rest of the day without a touch-up). If I were Jamie Hince right now, I would not accept that kind of behavior at all. I’d dump that no-good, electronics-throwing Kate Moss on her bony butt.
Jack White’s at it Again March 14, 2009
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.