Expectations for a project featuring members of the White Stripes, the Raconteurs, the Kills, and Queens of the Stone Age would almost have to run high. After all, these are all bands that find ways to draw on the classic tenets of rock without sounding completely indebted to the past. Yet the Dead Weather – which combines the talents of Jack White, Jack Lawrence, Alison Mosshart, and Dean Fertita – aren't so much concerned with living up to expectations as they are about defying them. There's a different kind of alchemy on Horehound than on any of the bandmembers' other projects. Not only does White returns to his first instrument, the drums, he also trades in the high-pitched yelp he uses with the Stripes and Raconteurs for a deeper, at-times unrecognizable, voice on "I Cut Like a Buffalo," the lone Horehound track he wrote by himself.
Recorded on July 18th, 2014 as the opening set for Peter Walker's psychedelic guitar experience, William Tyler's Live at Third Man Records LP was buried for far too long in our backlog of masters. To release it too soon would have been to unleash the secrets of the transcendent and acclaimed new record Modern Country (Merge, 2016) before they had a chance to manifest. Too wait any longer would have been torture for us. Originally planned to be a live single, the full, 5-song performance was too truthy, too seamless, and too perfectly whole to be whittled down to two tracks. So, surprise!
Midwest Farmer's Daughter isn't merely an autobiographical title for the retro country singer/songwriter Margo Price, it's a nice tip of the hat to one of her primary inspirations, Loretta Lynn. The connections between the two country singers don't end there. Toward the end of her career, the Coal Miner's Daughter wound up collaborating with Jack White for 2004's Van Lear Rose, and White's Third Man Records provides a launching pad for Price, releasing her self-financed solo debut as-is as Midwest Farmer's Daughter.
Sea of Cowards arrived less than a year after the Dead Weather's debut, Horehound, an album that sounded like a bootleg of a 3 a.m. jam session – not a surprise, really, considering that the idea for the band came out of impromptu playing at Jack White's house. It’s also unsurprising that the Dead Weather evolved quickly, given that the group went from releasing Horehound to touring to recording again almost nonstop. Sea of Cowards isn’t a radical change from Horehound’s smoky, sludgy sound – if anything, White, Alison Mosshart, Dean Fertita, and Jack Lawrence go even deeper into their classic rock and blues fetishes – but it feels more organic, the product of a band instead of four separate personalities.
It took the Dead Weather two years to make and release Dodge and Burn, with the bandmembers recording whenever they had time to play together and issuing several songs as singles through Third Man's subscription service, The Vault. Despite these fragmented origins, this is the Dead Weather's most satisfying and engaging album, with everything that was good about their previous music getting a shot of adrenaline. The charged opening track, "I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)," is the first sign that things are a little different this time, with the spare swagger of '70s metal and boogie rock providing a platform for some of Dean Fertita's most unhinged guitar playing and some of Alison Mosshart's wildest vocals.
An out of work pulp fiction novelist, Holly Martins, arrives in a post war Vienna divided into sectors by the victorious allies, and where a shortage of supplies has lead to a flourishing black market.