KEEP IT ON THE BROWNLOWE: Best Records of 09: Horehound by Dead Weather




Oh no! We are rolling closer to the end of 2009 and there are still a few records to review for Keep It On The Brownlowe’s “Best Records of 2009” list!

You know what? I am so sick of the press giving Dead Weather shit! Calling them a gimmick, an unimpressive super-group that is the creation of yet another restless Jack White alter ego. Saying their album sounds like it was rushed and not fully realized. Claiming their lyrics are hastily written without a shred of intelligence.

The sound of Dead Weather’s debut album, Horehound, is so tough if it were a person I doubt the faceless music critics would have the balls to chastise them so adamantly without fearing for their precious typing fingers!

Parts of the accusations hold some truth. Yes, the band formed spontaneously while the Raconteurs and the Kills were on tour together…. and they wrote and recorded an album in a matter of weeks – which at times is as carnal and uncognitive as deciding to take a piss in a back alley as a cop turns the corner, BUT, that is part of the charm of this record! It’s got all of the primal elements that make music exciting! It’s moody, it’s dark, it’s messy, it makes me wanna drink a pint of whiskey to hear and appreciate the beauty in the sound of broken glass…

It’s rock n roll at it’s very best in a day and age when we are told the true spirit of rock n roll is a ghost of the past.

“60 FT TALL”: Starting off with a stark rumble, the opening track of Horehound sounds almost like the band is warming up in the practice studio. Once the groove gets going, the listener’s attention is grabbed and propelled into a hailstorm of blues riffs and mercy begging shrieks from the lips of our femme fatale, Alison Mosshart.

“HANG YOU FROM THE HEAVENS”: Track 2 begins with a heavy drone and Jack Whites pouncing beat making. Alison comes with a voice that seems to point the finger at her culprit saying she doesn’t know how to treat you and wants to take you to the devil. Mid way the song strips down to White’s tribal premonition that will hang you from the heavens.

“I CUT LIKE A BUFFALO”: A cocky jive featuring the band’s first duet between White and Mosshart. But it isn’t some lovey-dovey 70’s showcase type of duet. Instead it is raunchy, choking over itself like a broken record. Apparently, the lyrics “Y’Know I look like a woman / But I Cut Like A Buffalo” comes from an inside joke between the two when Mosshart told Jack his vocal range was womanly. The organ adds a crazed circus feel on occassion whirling around in a maniacal merry-go-round.

“SO FAR FROM YOUR WEAPON”: Alison Mosshart’s persona sort of intimidates me. Once she was an unassuming American teenager from Florida playing in a pop-punk band called Discount. Next thing you know, she is living in London having a music affair channeling the grimey NYC  ’67 underground with Jamie Hince in the Kills. Now she is the provacative front woman tangoing with the Jack White elite. She has this shit down though – with bullets in her pockets and studs at her heels. Singing with a confident sneer and a rope at her hands, the boys call back the words to her in from their love shock prison.

“TREAT ME LIKE YOUR MOTHER”: The beauty of vinyl records is that it really connects you to the music. Even when you have to turn it over and switch on the needle. Without it, the brilliant punch – the second wind – of “Treat Me Like Your Mother” wouldn’t be fully realized. Maybe I’m looking to far into the lyrical content but let’s say this song explores gender roles men are supposed to play. Mosshart challenges the norm to stand up like a real man and learn to shake hands and treat women like their mother. Meanwhile, White tries to figure it out and make out the manipulation. The song drives on forward with a deep growl. Though in the music video White and Mosshart are shooting each other with machine guns so…

“ROCKING HORSE”: The song starts out with a juicy surf guitar and calming ride cymbal hits and rim shots and then morphs into a shrieking duet between Mosshart and White that sounds like it could make it onto a Quinton Tarantino movie soundtrack.

“NEW PONY”: Swaggering forward and breaking it down in a voodoo boogey this song is one of my favorite of the album. Mosshart’s voice sticks straight through the heart and into the gut.

“BONE HOUSE”: Contrary to Tom Petty’s modest warning, Alison Mosshart chants, “I always get the things I want”. This seems to be true. From little beginnings, this lady came up from the South, dabbled in UK fame and now has returned to her homeland to work with – and become – an American superstar. Watch:

“3 BIRDS”: Blown out with reverb and taking notes from cult films about psychedelic surf zombies, this song provides a definite head change from the previous tracks. Ends with a sinister wail that may have it end up on the halloween holiday channel on muzak in 5 years.

“NO HASSLE NIGHT”: Hi Hat crashes in and then falls apart into a cesspool of feedback and rumble. The group gets it back together in this snarky jam.

“WILL THERE BE ENOUGH WATER”: This sleepy, Southern-gothic charm is a fantastic way to end the record. While the lyrical content may pine for the cliche line, “waiting for my ship to sail in”, the Dead Weather wonder if enough water will be there to keep them afloat. Something we all probably wonder about from time to time. This song feels like paddling through the swampy landscapes of the deep south with the threat of serpents swimming underneath the dark waters.

Yes…I think it is certain the album will be battling for the top 3 records of 2009 slot (currently in limbo with Yeah Yeah Yeahs “It’s Blitz”, Bat For Lashes “Two Suns” and The Dodos “Time To Die”).



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