It sounds like they had a blast making it
Rob Crossan 2009-07-07
Solidly cemented as the most motivated man in rock, Jack White still seems keen to demonstrate his admirable ability to seemingly do whatever he likes, with whomever he likes. Now, sounding like a bunch of frayed and unwashed circus escapees who have set up their own goat hide tent in the corner of a New Orleans graveyard, The Dead Weather is his latest side project, which came into being during some jam sessions following a Raconteurs tour last year.
Sadly for us, White has made perhaps the first real clanger of his polymath career by recruiting Alison Mosshart of The Kills to take on vocal duties while White himself is relegated to some fairly rudimentary tub thumping. Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age and Jack Lawrence from White’s 'other', other band The Raconteurs make up a quartet of suitably roguish looking carney demons.
I Cut Like A Buffalo is a stand out track with a sleazy throbbing riff that's meatier than an Argentinean parrella stand. An out-of-control church organ lurches between the guitar squelches while White, on a rare excursion onto lead vocals, threatens us repeatedly with the question, ''Is that you choking, or are you just joking?''.
The venom of the rest of the tracks, however, are diluted from gaucho bonfire to granola bar by Mosshart. Her thin voice works for the more ethereal creations of the Kills but here, as she morphs into her alter ego 'Baby Ruthless', her vocal abilities struggle to move beyond that of irritating adolescent yelping against a fearsome backdrop of swamp blues. It's a big job, and Mosshart is out of shape for it.
New Pony (from 1978's Street-Legal) is a strange choice for a Dylan cover: a mildly diverting delta funk reworking of Bob's musings about wanting to shoot his horses that doesn't quite convince. What wouldn't we give to have heard White and Lawrence give a more carnivorous Dylan track a la Gotta Serve Somebody a going over here?
Yet even something that comes dangerously close to treading slimy Mississippi water still has enough guttural charisma to entertain, despite some serious flaws. It sounds like they had a blast making it, though listening to this only makes the impatience for a new White Stripes offering even more feverish.