I’d consider Jack White to be on of the most unlikely musicians to break through to the mainstream. Not because of his talent – I believe that is undisputed – but because the abrasive nature of his early recordings didn’t scream out “Crossover Hit”. Nevertheless, Jack White has been a household name since about 2001 with the release of the third album by The White Stripes, White Blood Cells. I think recording the follow-up to that record at Toe Rag studios with Liam Watson (known to me through his wonderful recordings with the Television Personalities) gave Jack White a template to base his recording aesthetic on – clean, uncompressed sound. Third Man Records is doing amazing things (including releasing the upcoming Neil Young record), but Jack White is also a restless musician. With The White Stripes laid to rest, he still performs as a solo artist, with The Raconteurs, and with The Dead Weather fearing members of The Kills, Queens of the Stone Age, and The Raconteurs. It also happens to be my favorite Jack White project, post The White Stripes.
The Dead Weather features Alison Mosshart on vocals, sometimes joined by Jack White (who plays drums in this band). Rounding out the line up is Dean Fertita from Queens of the Stone Age on guitar & keyboards and The Raconteur’s Jack Lawrence on bass. Both of their records featured a bluesy, heavy metal vibe that tapped into an energy that was different from the members’ associated bands. This new single is their 1st release in almost 4 years and is a welcome return. The A side (or 1st track, for those of us in the digital realm) is called Open Up (That’s Enough). Mr. White and Ms. Mosshart trade vocal lines as a dark vibe permeates the atmosphere. After announcing their arrival with a machine gun like fury of guitar riffs, the track segues into a 70’s black magic tune – think Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath. As it turns out that opening salvo is the guitar refrain that backs the chorus, so the song shifts again when the explosive chorus hits. Nice lyrics too – “My hand is faster than the pen but the end has been written down / Still the ink will not dry, undermined by a hope that I’m wrong / Open Up Open Up”. Rough Detective is the equal of the A side, easily. Fuzz guitar tones compliment jazz-like drums. Vocals are bluesy – Alison Mosshart and Jack White trading verses, singing in harmony, and finding their groove.
The Dead Weather have promised a series of singles to be released throughout 2014, with a full length to follow in 2015 comprised of the singles and new exclusive tracks. This is the 1st single to be released and is available on vinyl through Third Man Record as well as digitally via the usual suspects. The album will be album of the year in 2015, if the quality of the forthcoming tracks match these.
Verdict: Metal Tinged Garage Rock Classic
For Fans of: The Kills, White Stripes, Discount, Sonic Youth, The Raveonettes