Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Dead Weather - Dodge And Burn (2015)

Dat turntable tho!

Readers, music fans, rock and blues fans alike, we need to talk.  Since this corner of the web started as a semi weekly Instagram 2 sentence post of my favorite music on vinyl, I made sure to only pick things that you needed to hear and own only on vinyl.  At some point that shifted.  It slowly became all things that you need to hear on an actual record.  Then it went a step farther, it became anything that you needed to own on vinyl and appreciate in music and pop culture with all of my opinion that you can handle.  Then there's today.  For the first time ever, I'm about to pick a piece of vinyl that I'm going to be critical of, not too critical of course because I would never spend money and invest time in something that I don't care about and didn't like.  I will however take the time and have made an investment in something that is important for the rock and blues fans, fans of music and you readers alike.

RE: Jack White, we need to talk.  Not a lot of people will deny the genius that is, Jack White.  Gifted guitarist, accomplished lyricist, grunge/garage/punk/blues rocker.  You name it, Jack can influence it.  Jack's influence on other artists is something of note.  The combination of Jack and Meg White gave us 14 years of some of the filthiest garage rock since the 70's and basically signed off on the alternative rock era that was the 90's.  Later working with members of what will become The Dead Weather, and Ohio garage group The Greenhorners, we were gifted The Raconteurs. The Go and The Uphosterers really aren't worth talking about as the former was a pet project to keep him busy between Elephant and Get Behind Me Satan.  The latter was a horrible attempt to become an all male version of a core grunge version of The White Stripes.  All that aside, Jack struck gold with The Dead Weather.  

The Dead Weather comprised of members from The Kills, Queens of The Stone Age, and The Raconteurs, have now put out 3 albums.  Each one slightly less like themselves than the one that preceded it, but all of them uniquely spectacular in it's own way.  I'm getting way ahead of myself.  For some more random facts and history, I direct you to a previous post featuring The Dead Weather here.  It was their 2nd album, which by all rights wasn't too bad.

This past Friday, Jack White and The Dead Weather, (Let's face it, that's clearly what's happening here.), released the groups 3rd studio album Dodge and Burn.  From the album cover, you kind of get a sense of what's about to go down here.  But this began long before that.  If you recall a Sirious/ly post not too long ago either, this also happened.  The 3rd and final single released before the albums' launch gave us all hope and a reason for waiting 5 long years for a follow up to Sea of Cowards.

I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)

Awesome right!?  Strong way to lead off the record too.  Hold on a sec.  That was the 3rd single released in advance of this album.  Why is that the only one you heard?  Ok, in fairness it was released about month before the album, so there's a lot to be said for promotion, and well if you've been paying attention here, it's not like it was a secret or anything.  The first single was out back in January of last year, Well, here's where things start go slightly wrong.  Kudos for Jack White planting the seed and all teasing new material from a great group, minus points for basically forgetting about it to promote your solo project only to pick it up later like a true side project and less of a priority.  In doing that, suddenly The Dead Weather became a red-headed step child group so to speak. Now this was either brilliant or troublesome.  Brilliant in the respect that you tease an album over a year in advance and lead up to the killer track just before the drop, which is precisely what I went with, or completely troublesome in that you tease an album well over a year before it's release and try to save face with a killer track in I Feel Love.  I'll let the reviewers and forum trolls debate that one.  I'm going with the former given that this group has been consistently good

So then, what's the problem, really?  Well, in a nutshell after listening to this album multiple times since it's release last Friday, I've come to the conclusion that it's simply a case of Jack White being somewhat of an ego maniac.  Jack White is not a drummer.  For a second though, let's pretend that he is.  Unless the genre of music is Drum & Bass, the drum shouldn't be the center of the musical arrangement.  Jack's mediocre at best drumming skill is all over this mother-fucker, and frankly it's not all bad, if this album was released at the height of the alternative music boom almost 20 years ago.  Anybody that want's to hear Jack White's skill should not hear him as a drummer.  Listen to him as a guitarist.  Trust me.  The fact that he not only over played with the same style through the record, he insisted on dropping vocals in tandem often ranging from rap to his quirky falsetto flutter thing that's actually quite good, on his solo records.

That's the issue, this isn't a solo record.  What's worse is, Jack White at some point forgot that.  He was either too busy making The Kills sound like The White Stripes, or forming Jack White and The Dead Weather.  If you listen to this album with any kind of expectations, don't listen to it thinking that you're going to get anything more than deep driving riffs and sound blues checking from the ever literally smokey Alison Mosshart.  As you heard above, there's about 2 songs on the album that drive as hard as that one.  Let Me Through, and Mile Markers stand out.  Then there's my personal favorite that I have listened to in an unhealthy dose, Cop and Go.

And then there's Alison Mosshart.  Since The Kills she's been the punk hottie with a voice that could have piloted the Riot Grrl movement.  She uses her core punk style to deliver some very in your face vocals.  Listening to her on any track you really get a feeling that she's about one of the angriest vocalists in the game.  Having seen The Dead Weather live, and being the fan of The Kills that I am, I know that to not be true.  Crazy as it sounds, she's just that gifted and underrated as a vocalist. It's not till the last track on this album however that you realize that.

Impossible Winner

Yikes.  This song is almost haunting.  My only wish is that Alison would quit smoking.  She's about 1 album away from becoming Stevie Nicks...  I'm not joking.  In any event, there was an awesome magazine out years ago called Blender.  It was under the umbrella of the guys that print the  Adolescent porn magazine Maxim.  Blender had this feature that I loved.  It took a bunch of releases from an artist and ranked 3 of them from "must buy", to "good", to "for fans only".  I'm taking that road with the Dead Weather now, even though they only have 3 albums in the can.  Horehound, their first one is far and away one of the greatest albums ever made.  Find it and love it.  Sea of Cowards, was their 2nd and 2nd best album.  So worth a listen to multiple times on vinyl.  This album, Dodge and Burn, is for fans only.  Jack White made the Kills worse, and the Kills made the White Stripes better.  Thumbs up if you get me on that last sentence.  I hope Lazaretto wasn't the last good Jack White solo album.  

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