The Dead Weather Do the Supergroup Thing Right
Too often the albums released by these
groups don’t live up to the high expectations, and even when the formula does
result in memorable music, as with Captain Beyond or Gorillaz, listeners often
miss the authenticity (another annoying pop-music term) of a band bio along the
lines of, say, meeting in high school and enduring the highs and lows along the
road to stardom together.
And yet we tend to forget that, with
all the touring and promotion going on, the life of a working musician offers
plenty of opportunities for mutual interests to be discovered and for genuine
friendships to blossom. The formation of The Dead Weather, featuring Jack White
(The White Stripes, The Raconteurs), Alison Mosshart (The Kills), “Little” Jack
Lawrence (The Raconteurs, The Greenhornes) and Dean Fertita (Queens of the
Stone Age), seems as organic as that of any other group. At the tail end of a
tour, with The Kills playing opener for The Raconteurs, White lost his voice
and asked Mosshart to sing on a few numbers. The resultant good vibes led to
casual jam sessions with Fertita sitting in on drums, and thus The Dead Weather
But still, the rock supergroup label
rears its ugly head when it comes to convincing potential listeners that
they’re a proper band (especially for a group derived in part from The
Raconteurs and Queens of the Stone Age, who are both pretty “super” in their
own right). In a recent phone interview, bassist Lawrence acknowledged the tag,
but seemed unperturbed by it.
“There’s definitely preconceived
says. “People believe what they want, because they’ve heard us in our other
bands before. In The Raconteurs we really tried to get away from that, but
people will say what they want. We definitely don’t look at ourselves that
The Dead Weather’s first album, last
summer’s Horehound, seemed to come together as effortlessly as the band
itself, reportedly being finished over the course of a few weeks. Their freshly
released follow-up, Sea
of Cowards,follows in its predecessor’s
unforced footsteps. It’s an effective hybrid of sweaty, riff-heavy ’70s hard
rock and more dance-savvy modern rock, seasoned with little proggy flourishes
and an off-kilter funkiness that make repeat listens a worthy endeavor.
“It’s the same on this record as the
last one,” Lawrence
says. “We never set out to make it anything; we never discussed it, we never
had a game plan. We just get in the studio and go with it.”
This is not to say that the album is
tossed off, but merely that it’s free from the weight of the expectations of a
sophomore slump and the desire to move X amount of units. In Lawrence’s words, “There’s always pressure.
You always want to better yourself.”
As for the more modern tone, Lawrence offers a simple
explanation: “There’s a lot of Moog on there.” Funny how something so old can
still make just about anything sound futuristic.
Whether the supergroup itself is ahead
of its time remains to be seen. But regardless of the members’ pedigrees, and
in light of an era of popular music where high-profile collaborations are
commonplace, we should all be able to recognize The Dead Weather for what they
are: a solid rock band. They’re probably not going to blow your mind and
they’re probably not going to usher in a new rock renaissance, but the records
are solid and the shows are solid. And at a time when mainstream radio rock is
defined by Puddle of Mudd, a solid rock band can seem heaven-sent.
The Dead Weather headline a 7:30 p.m. show at the Rave on Thursday, July 29, with openers Harlem.