Sea of Cowards

The Dead Weather is the latest group to feature Jack White (White Stripes, Raconteurs). The band includes vocalist Alison Mosshart (the Kills), bassist Jack Lawrence (the Raconteurs), and guitarist Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age). And let’s give that funky Deep Purple organ credit as the fifth member.

White's presence pervades the quartet's second album, Sea of Cowards, as opening track "Blue Blood Blues" is a White Stripes-inspired riot-rock composition (with more intricate drumming) that lurches like freight-train boxcars getting hitched. White's high-pitched, blues-tinged, attitude-soaked voice is the conductor’s whistle.

Each of the 11 tracks is sequenced to flow into the next for a near-seamless 35-minute jam. "Hustle and Cuss" follows "Blue Blood Blues" in this manner, and the initial segue creates a momentary let down when it becomes apparent Mosshart is handling lead vocals. Mosshart, however, gives White a run for his money on the inflammatory "Gasoline." Beneath her impassioned wails, the band churns out a demented music-box cacophony. White, besides being a guitar hero, is also a stone-cold drummer. During "Gasoline," he demonstrates his polyrhythmic prowess, leading the track into a Zeppelin-inspired breakdown. Other standouts (both fronted by White on vocals) include "Looking at the Invisible Man" and the organ-heavy, psychedelic album closer "Old Mary," on which White riffs on the Catholic prayer "Hail Mary."

Even when the songwriting is underdeveloped ("The Difference Between Us," "I'm Mad," and "Die by the Drop"), there are enough interesting musical excursions to reward repeat listens. At its best, Sea of Cowards is a welcome addition to the canon of blues-based acid rock, confirming White’s Midas touch.

  • Album: Sea of Cowards (2010)
  • Artist: The Dead Weather
  • Label: Warner Brothers
  • Songs: (1) Blue Blood Blues (2) Hustle And Cuss (3) The Difference Between Us (4) I'm Mad (5) Die by the Drop (6) I Can't Hear You (7) Gasoline (8) No Horse (9) Looking at the Invisible Man (10) Jawbreaker (11) Old Mary

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