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Album review: The Dead Weather's 'Horehound'

July 13, 2009 |  5:29 pm

Dead_weather_240_ There are precious few bands, especially those operating in the sonically weighty end of the musical spectrum, that demonstrate any appreciation for the notion that the notes you play may be less important than those you don't.

The Dead Weather, Jack White's latest project -- a collaboration with the Kills’ singer Alison Mosshart, Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Dean Fertita and Raconteurs bassist Jack Lawrence -- embraces that philosophy with bone-chilling power on "Horehound," the band’s take-no-prisoners debut.

Mosshart brings a wildcat's ferocity to her vocals; she's a fearsome adversary to all those high-pitched metal wailers. White, leaving the guitar work predominantly to Fertita, takes up his seat at the drums to drive this machine in tandem with Lawrence's titanic bass lines. Beefy riffs, upended beats and blues-rooted atmospherics are dolloped on sparingly, until it's time to explode with a solo.

"I like to grab you by the hair / And drag you to the devil" Mosshart snarls in "Hang You From the Heavens," which she wrote with Fertita. "Stand up like a man," she warns in the quartet-composed "Treat Me Like Your Mother," "You better learn to shake hands / And treat me like your mother."

In White's "Cut Like a Buffalo," his lead vocal, one of just two on this outing, is accompanied by the convulsive sounds of Mosshart's gurgles as he cries, "Is that you choking / Or are you just joking?" There's no joke here -- just mountains of chest-rattling primal rock designed to reassert the elemental power of the four-piece rock group. Mission accomplished.

-- Randy Lewis

The Dead Weather
Third Man
Four stars