DEAD WEATHER Ė Sea Of Cowards (Warner Brothers)

Dead Weatherís first album got decidedly mixed reviews, which was something that I could never understand as I loved it. Obviously there was the Jack White connection, but as he was on the drums you werenít constantly listening out for his guitar or vocals, and I thought that Alisonís voice fitted the grungy feel of the music perfectly. Luckily this one seems to be faring better in the press, but even if it hadnít I would still have been first in the queue to get it. ĎBlue Blood Bluesí starts off as they mean to go on, with a bluesy guitar riff and a Jack White vocal sounding like nothing less than a beefed up version of the White Stripes. Alison is back on vocal duties for ĎHussle And Cussí, a Beefheartian romp which includes some crunching guitar and Hammond duelling, and although ĎThe Difference Between Usí is the nearest that the band get to a ballad, it still contains some cracking guitar overload in the middle eight. ĎIím Madí has Alison really sounding as though she is deranged while singing it, with the music being a suitably demented and feedback-laden grunge-fest. ĎDie By The Dropí was a good choice for the first single, as even though the band havenít toned down the guitars it does have a more radio-friendly tune, and as a sampler for the album it certainly points to how the rest of the songs are going to sound. ĎI Canít Hear Youí is a slow blues with some great squalling guitar interjections, and Alisonís vocals match the mood of creeping menace perfectly. ĎGasolineí is a superb heavy rocker, with a squealing guitar solo and a shuddering climax, and if you think that ĎNo Horseí sounds raw, then it is because this is the demo version that the band felt that they could not better. ĎJawbreakerí utilises the organ to provide the main riff, over which the rest of the band chuck in everything they have to hand, and Alison screams over the top. It might sound a mess, but it is an exhilarating piece of music and one of the best on here. ĎOld Maryí is something of an oddity, almost experimental in its use of spoken intro, chanted phrases over solemn piano, and strange moans and cries interspersed throughout the track, but it is still a great piece of music. And all too soon it is all over. Although seemingly I am one of the few people who loved their last album, even I have to admit that this is so much better. The band sound like they have made it for themselves, having a ball while doing so, and if other people like it as then thatís a bonus. Well, I think other people will like it, and so they should as The Dead Weather are turning into a real band and not just the side project of a bunch of musos with too much time on their hands. Even if you have never heard anything by the band before, and are not particularly a fan of The White Stripes, The Kills, or QOTSA, try to hear just one track Ė and actually any track will do Ė and you will get a flavour of what the members of those bands can achieve when they are having fun together.
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