Review Summary: A step up from Horehound, The Dead Weather offer us 70s hard rock twisted with blues and synth additions.
Too many times, supergroups are disappointing. A good example was one of the three supergroups of last year, Chickenfoot. Chickenfoot was made up of former Van Halen members Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani, and Michael Anthony, along Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith (yes, i'm sure it wasn't Will Ferrell). I was excited for the debut due to the excellent lineup, and when I picked it up, I didn't know what to say. It was completely average, and I felt it was a waste of potential that was obviously there. Then, on the other side of the spectrum, there was The Dead Weather. Made up of Singer from The Kills Alison Mosshart, singer and guitarist from The White Stripes Jack White, guitarist for Queens of the Stone Age Dean Fertita, and bassist for The Raconteurs Jack Lawrence. Their debut, Horehound, had shown potential, but on their sophomore release, Sea Of Cowards, that potential is used near it's full extent.
The sound of this album is influenced by 70s hard rock, with additional blues influences and synth to keep things interesting. Songs where synth plays a vital role are "The Difference Between Us", "Gasoline", and "Looking At The Invisible Man". The obvious reason they included synth in this album is to keep things fresh and interesting. Not that the tracks would be boring without, but it is a definite perk of this album. Another element that keeps things interesting are the traces of blues spread across the album. Plenty of bands have fused hard rock and blues before, but few have executed it this well. The difference would be the combination of Jack and Alison's vocals, they seem to blend together well giving it a bluesy feel to it, while still maintaining the hard rock sound.
The obvious stand out tracks are "Blue Blood Blues", "Die By The Drop", and "Gasoline". "Blue Blood Blues" features Jack White on lead vocals, accompanied with an excellent main riff, and the combination of Jack and Alison's vocals. "Die By The Drop" is similar in the latter sense, except they switch off with vocals, with Jack echoing the lyrics Alison sings in the verses and pre-choruses, then harmonizing in the choruses. This song will appeal to the general public more then any other track on this album. "Gasoline" is a totally different beast, drenched in fast-paced synth, one of the only guitar solos on the entire album, and some of the best lyrics as well ("What you whispered should be screamed/Screamed at the top of your lungs/Any sense you had in the morning/Is gone when the day is done").
This album is not without it's weaker tracks, though. "I'm Mad" and "I Can't Hear You" are the main ones. "I'm Mad", which sounds like it belongs in a Kills album, comes off as uninspired as if they did not take much time making it. "I Can't Hear You" is rather boring compared to the rest of the album. It's bluesy guitar riff can keep you interested for a little while, but the song is just stretched out over it's capacity. Also, I'm not a fan of the vocals. Alison almost seems to be mocking herself at times.
"No Horse" is the most straight-forward rocker on this album, with a catchy guitar riff and rock-style vocals, including screams. The drum beat in this song seems to shadow the riff perfectly. "Looking At The Invisible Man" is a synth-oriented track with Jack at the vocals. It's a catchy song that has some great production (like there is a part in the song where the line "Like you know" is sampled and repeated, giving it a unique edge). "Jawbreaker" is another rocker, a pretty average song. The problem is that it just sounds a bit too much like some of the other tracks. "Old Mary" is the only track completely written by White, and it is definitely the strangest. It's start picks up where "Jawbreaker" abruptly left off, making it sound more like a car crash just happened. It's a parody of the Catholic prayer "Hail Mary", with Jack speaking in a deadpan fashion. He's alone on the mic until the drums kick in, where him and Alison sing "Now until the moment of your last breath". It has a few strange sounds in it's background before the drums such as a laughing baby and random noises.
Alison Mosshart's singing ability is a mixed bag. She does have a great voice, but she doesn't have much of a range. Most of her vocals sound the same, and it can get a bit repetitive. Another thing about her voice is the squeaking. I kid you not before almost every line she sings he voice seems to squeak. A good example is the song "Die By the Drop". Listen for it. Jack's vocals are bluesy as always and he gives 100% on every track he sings on. As for the guitar work, it is very well done. Dean can create some very catchy riffs that fit the mood well. The bass is rather disappointing on this record, because it's only audible in less then half of the tracks. When not audible the bass hides itself behind the guitar riff. As for the drums, many of the beats are same-y using only the bell of the ride cymbal. There are some moments where his drumming shines, such as in "Blue Blood Blues", "Gasoline", and "No Horse".
In all, this is a step up from Horehound, but i'm still waiting for that masterpiece that is undoubtedly hiding somewhere inside The Dead Weather.
this is def. one of your better reviews, keep it up...pos'd
this is an interesting lineup as far as band members go, so i'll be checking it out. i've always found it difficult to get into rock bands with female singers, but from your review it sounds like there's plenty of jack white mixed in.
A quick grammar note - the possessive form of 'it' is 'its', without an apostrophe. So "used near it's full extent," "not without it's weaker tracks," "It's bluesy guitar riff," "It's start picks up," "out over it's capacity," and "sounds in it's background before" should be replaced with 'its'. It's, with the apostrophe, is a contraction for "it is". Sorry if that comes across as nit-picky; just trying to help!
I really, really like this album. They took everything from Horehound and made it so much better. It's just dripping with attitude. And I love pitchfork's description of Whites/Mosshart's vocals: "Together, they sound like two feral cats circling each other outside a dumpster, trying to figure out whether to fuck or fight."
review's good overall, but there's a few things you could do to improve.
-comma usage... make sure you proofread your reviews pretty heavily for comma usage mistakes, as there's some here (ie first sentence). maybe even a little brush-up on these rules wouldn't hurt.
-personal observations... I see a few like 'Also, I'm not a fan of the vocals.' these can be fine, but (and different people have different ideas on this, there seems to be absolute correct way) I think reviews should keep these to a minimum unless they add something to the review that a stronger statement that actually says WHY the vocals are bad isn't possible, hope that makes sense.
-thirdly, you may want to work on a main idea... this is what, eventually, will separate your reviews from others. try to work on coming up with a main point about the album, intro. it in the intro., and tie your analyzing points (mostly) to it in the body, and then say something conclusive about it at the end. this opens up the door for reviews that flow much better, have better readability, and are generally much stronger. your analyzation is adequate, but you might want to work on applying this analyzation to some larger idea.
anyway, great review... just may want to work on those in the future!
there's a few points, if you ever want any help or more clarification just ask again... hope I could help!