Articles tagged with The Dead Weather

Jack White – “High Ball Stepper”

Jack White
I don’t get starstruck easily, but if I ever met Jack White, I’m pretty sure I’d flip my shit. Today, I wrote a news story for Exclaim! about his upcoming album Lazaretto. Not only am I excited for the music, I’m equally eager to see all the art and promotional materials that will go along with it.

A video for the instrumental cut “High Ball Stepper” is below. I’m intrigued…

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The Dead Weather’s creepy new video

The Dead Weather - Horehound
For the most part, the Dead Weather‘s Horehound is a democratic album; despite the larger-than-life presence of Jack White, the band has always insisted that each of its four members plays an equal collaborative role. “I Cut Like a Buffalo,” however, is the exception to that rule—White sings lead on the track, which is the only song on the album for which he receives sole writing credit. Predictably, the spiky, organ-laced rocker is the highlight of the album.

The Dead Weather has released a video for “I Cut Like a Buffalo,” and it’s fittingly White-centric. The singer/drummer directed the clip, and he’s the only member of the band who appears in it. Just like the song itself, the video feels like a peek into the darkest recesses of White’s imagination. Against a chilly blue background, a group of faceless, red-haired women stare at the camera as they wield gruesome butchers knives; if you were ever looking for a metaphor for Jack White’s music, this is it.

The rest of the video is made up of quick-cut clips of White singing into a vintage microphone and looking as pale and twitchy as ever. At one point, he suspiciously eyes a man wearing a bowler hat that flashes the words “press” and “terrorist”—I guess that explains the lyric “I cut a record on my throat then you / Break me wide open.”

“I Cut Like a Buffalo” is on the excellent album Horehound, out now via Third Man.
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A tale of two Jacks

The Dead Weather
Is there anybody who has benefitted more from Jack White’s bizarre string of side projects than Jack Lawrence? A few years ago, the bassist was languishing in obscurity with the hard-toiling, little-known blues trio the Greenhornes. Then, White recruited him and fellow Greenhorne Patrick Keeler to play in the Do Whaters, Loretta Lynn‘s backing band for her 2004 album Van Lear Rose. A year later, Lawrence and Keeler became the rhythm section of the Raconteurs, White’s collaboration with singer-songwriter Brendan Benson. After the band released two albums and toured the world many times over, Lawrence had the opportunity to play bass on the White-penned Bond song “Another Way to Die.”

Now, as a member of the garage blues supergroup the Dead Weather, Lawrence is sharing the stage with Kills frontwoman Alison Mosshart, getting to experience her erotically-changed gyrations up close and personal. He might look deadpan—kind of like a gothic J Mascis—but I can guarantee that behind those massive glasses, he’s loving every minute of it.

Okay, so he has to suffer the indignity of being called “LJ” (short for “Little Jack”), but that’s a small price to pay for money, fame and the opportunity to play to huge audiences around the world. And did I mention getting to stare at Alison Mosshart? Dude’s got it made.

I saw the Dead Weather’s performance last night at the Commodore Ballroom, which was a sight to behold. Mosshart was the show-stealer, screaming and spitting her lyrics as she writhed around the mic stand and waggled her tongue at the audience; the only difference between her performance and a ritualistic tribal sex dance was…well, I can’t think of any differences right now, but there must have been one. The hear more about her sensual delights, check out my review of the show over at Guttersnipe.

In related news, the Dead Weather released a video for the single “Treat Me Like Your Mother” last month. It offers a fairly literal representation of White and Mosshart’s explosive chemistry, beginning with a fizzling bomb and culminating with the band members shooting the shit out one another with automatic rifles. Yikes.

“Treat Me Like Your Mother” is available on 7″ via Third Man. It comes with the B-side “You Just Can’t Win,” a Them cover. It also appears on the awesome album Horehound.
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Jack is back

Dead Weather cover
Initially, it didn’t look like there was much reason to be optimistic about the Dead Weather, Jack White’s collaboration with Allison Mosshart (the Kills), Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age) and Jack Lawrence (the Raconteurs). White’s projects have been declining in quality in recent years, and the Dead Weather’s early singles were more baffling than they were infectious. “Hang You from the Heavens” hardly lived up to the radio-friendly accessibility of “Fell in Love with a Girl,” “Seven Nation Army,” or even “Steady, as She Goes.” And with its rambling structure and numerous tempo shifts, “Treat Me Like Your Mother” was simply too eclectic to work as a single.

Within the context of Horehound, however, these songs hold up much better; what the album lacks in knockout singles it makes up for in relentless energy. The album hits like a full-on assault, its primal garage blues and ominous spaghetti western guitar riffs making it Jack’s best album since 2003′s career-defining Elephant. Unlike the Raconteurs overly-fussy Consolers of the Lonely, the Dead Weather returns the White Stripe to his minimalist roots with gritty lo-fi recordings that befit the raucous mood.

Of course, Jack doesn’t deserve full credit for the success of Horehound, especially since the album relegates him to the less visible roles of drummer and producer. It’s Allison Mosshart who’s placed front-and-centre, her howling vocals channeling the woman-scorned intensity of Karen O (circa Fever to Tell). Her brash screaming on “Bone House” evokes an era of rap metal era before it was tainted by Limp Bizkit; fittingly, Fertita provides a freak-out tremolo solo that’s crazier than anything Tom Morello has produced in years.

But despite the group’s apparent democracy, it’s the moments when Jack takes over that are the most memorable. The album’s best track is “Cut Like a Buffalo,” and it’s the only song for which White receives sole writing credit. Punctuated by blasts of distorted organ and disorienting, proggy breakdowns, Jack’s vocal performance is downright maniacal. While the lyrics are too obtuse to fully decipher, lines like “You cut a record on my throat then you / Break me wide open” are chilling.

Horehound is the first album recorded in Jack’s new Third Man Studio in Nashville and, based on the evidence here, the experience appears to have revitalized his career. After the hyper-compressed sheen of Blackbird Studio (where Icky Thump and Consolers of the Lonely were recorded), White has returned to the unrefined glory of his best work. With a slew of new projects in the pipeline, there’s now plenty of reason to be hopeful for whatever comes next.

Horehound is out now via Third Man.
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The jury’s still out on the Dead Weather

Given the declining quality of Jack White’s many releases, the Dead Weather feels a bit like a make-or-break type project. Reactions to the group’s live shows have generally positive, so there’s reason to be optimistic about the quartet’s debut album, Horehound, which will be released on July 14.

The group released its second single, “Treat Me Like Your Mother,” yesterday via Jack’s own Third Man Records. Today, the song was released online as a free download (newsletter signup required). The tune doesn’t really settle my ambivalence towards the project. It features plenty of fuzzed-out garage rock riffing, with shrieking vocal trade-offs between White and bandmate Allison Mosshart (lead singer of the Kills). It’s got a complex structure, with plenty of tempo changes and no clear chorus. This makes it a challenging and unpredictable listen, but its restless structure feels a bit like a case of too few ideas, rather than too many; none of the sections are good enough to merit repetition, so the group has no choice but to change directions every 30 seconds.

The jury’s still out until Horehound hits the shelves (or, more likely, until it hits the internet sometime before). Click here to download “Treat Me Like Your Mother.”
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Because one supergroup is not enough

Both of Jack White’s bands have experienced a decline in quality on recent albums – Icky Thump (the White Stripes) and Consolers of the Lonely (the Raconteurs) lacked the fire of White’s early work, with hyper-compressed guitars and gimmicky arrangements. But you’ve got to admire him for not beating a dead horse. Less than three weeks after the White Stripes reunited to perform on the final episode of Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Jack White has announced his new band, the Dead Weather. This time around, White is playing drums, forfeiting lead vocal duties to Alison Moshart of the Kills. Jack Lawrence of the Raconteurs and the Greenhornes is the bassist, while Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age rounds out the lineup on guitar.

The band debuted at a private party in Nashville, where guests were handed a limited edition 7″ of the single “Hang You From the Heavens.” It’s not exactly a song for the ages, and it can’t quite match when the Raconteurs stormed out of the gate with “Steady, As She Goes.” Still, it’s a rocking tune, with fuzzed-out bass and a jolting stop-start chorus. Even though Jack White is ostensibly taking a back seat in the Dead Weather, it’s hard not to hear his mark all over this one—especially since it bears a strong similarity to the Raconteurs’ “These Stones Will Shout.”

For us plebs not cool enough to be at the performance, the single can be purchased on iTunes along with the B-side, a cover of Gary Numan’s “Are Friends Electric?” The band will release its debut full-length, Horehound, in June via White’s own Third Man Records. (Incidentally, horehound is a type of plant, not to be confused with whorehound.)
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