Well, this is a surprise. The White Stripes might have made their comeback on American TV the other week, but it seems Jack White‘s most pressing engagement right now is yet another band, pleasingly called The Dead Weather.
Oddly, White apparently cedes lead vocal and guitar responsibilities in The Dead Weather, with Alison Mosshart of The Kills fronting the project and Dean Fertita on guitar (Fertita is currently multi-instrumentalist in Queens Of The Stone Age and, if memory serves, was the first touring keyboard player for The Raconteurs). Little Jack Lawrence, from The Raconteurs and The Greenhornes, fills out the line-up on bass.
The good news, though, is that the single which has magically turned up on iTunes – and is announced here on Jack White’s Third Man Records site – is way better than, say, The Kills. “Hang You From The Heavens” might share that band’s aspirations to create a sort of buzzing blues menace, but there’s a fine tune here, novelly.
A tune that wouldn’t sound entirely out of place next to, say, “Icky Thump” or “Salute Your Solution”, actually. Mosshart actually seems to be mimicking White’s vocal style at times; that pinched, sulky indignation that can suddenly transform itself into eruptive spleen. There are no comparable guitar peaks, though – instead, Fertita keeps within a narrow, low range of evil hum and crunch.
And the fireworks come from – guess where? – the drumkit, with White employing stark rolls and clatter in much the same way as he punctuates songs in his other bands with those staticky, high end guitar solos. Just great.
Not quite as sold on the b-side, an unusually rollicking take on Gary Numan’s “Are Friends Electric”. It’s fun, for sure, and it has a sort of loose funkiness that Numan can never have dreamed of. But Mosshart’s a bit forced, back in that drama school gothic zone that she’s overused for years in The Kills.
An album’s coming in June called “Horehound”, anyway. Should be interesting, at the very least. If you get hold of the single, let me know what you think. And apologies to anyone who’s here looking for the promised blog on Grizzly Bear’s “Veckatimest”. That’ll come next week.