By Amy Longsdorf
Is Jack White the “Hardest Working Man in Show Business” or what? In addition to producing CDs for artists he admires (Loretta Lynn, Soledad Brothers, Greenhornes) and juggling two full-time bands (White Stripes, the Raconteurs), he recently put together the psycho-blues outfit the Dead Weather, with Kills vocalist Alison Mosshart, Raconteur bassist Jack Lawrence, and Queens of the Stone Age guitarist-organist Dean Fertita. But if the quartet’s debut CD “Horehound” is any indication, White might be spreading himself a little too thin.
The recorded-in-three-weeks disc gets off to a menacing start with four feral rockers fueled by gothic imagery and monster riffs. With Mosshart handling the vocals, “Hang You from the Heavens” and “60 Feet Tall” sound a bit like Patti Smith fronting the Bad Seeds.
But it’s all downhill from there. The hip-hop-accented “Treat Me Like Your Mother” is annoyingly bad and interminably long. Granted, the grinding “Rocking Horse” and the howling “Will There Be Enough Water?” have their moments but the remaining numbers ring surprisingly hollow. A cover of Bob Dylan’s “New Pony” is like hell on earth – and not in the way the band intended.
This time around, White’s black magic is in short supply.
Official Site: www.thedeadweather.com
[Amy Longsdorf’s entertainment coverage has appeared in “Blender,” “People,” the “Chicago Tribune,” the “Toronto Star,” and “Newsday.” She doesn’t want to imagine a world without Preston Sturges movies, Stax singles, and the music of Bob Marley.]