The indie rock supergroup, The Dead Weather, second album is Sea of Cowards, and was released in the US on May 11. Originally formed in Nashville, Tennessee, the band is composed of The White Stripes founder, Jack White, The Kills lead singer, Alison Mosshart, The Greenhornes bassist, Jack Lawrence, and the guitarist/keyboardist for The Waxwings and Queens of the Stone Age, Dean Fertita. The albums single “Die By The Drop” was released on March 30th along with the music video.
Starting with the song “Blue Blood Blues,” which White admits as being “bluesier and heavier than we ever thought we could be,” the band focuses on the raw talents of the musicians as opposed to concentrating on any emotional appeal or substantial meaning behind the songs. What can be appreciated about this album is the sensual and experimental quality of their usage of complimentary sounds and rhythms. Contributing to the sensual nature of the music is the funk beats exhibited in the rhythm by hitting most notes at the end of each count. The prominence of the bass is complimented by the drums and percussion, setting the foundation for each songs rhythm. In addition, White and Mosshart’s vocals mimic and play off of the shrill, droning, and muffled sounds of the electric guitar.
The first three songs (“Blue Blood Blues,” “Hustle and Cuss,” “The Difference Between Us”) stand out as being able to hold their own with more distinction between them than the rest of the album. Upon hearing the names of those first three, the listener can immediately recall clips from each song, recognizing the difference between the beats and holistic sound. Following is the choked out, half sung, half spoken track “I’m Mad,” Mosshart’s tamest yet most cynical sounding performance. Apart from the album’s single, songs six through ten sound like a continuous jam of funk beats and experimental electric guitars and percussion broken up with multiple stilted variations during key changes. The lur of The Dead Weathers is that their music creates a strong, enticing atmosphere that does not rely on the meaning of each song but purely on the sound. The lyrics are a contribution; certainly not the foundation of their music.
This album’s single, “Die By The Drop,” is also capable of standing alone – a twisted, dark yet uptempo track reliant on call and response tactics by Mosshart and White. At times it is hard to tell their filtered, stern shouts apart from the shrieks produced by White’s electric guitar. What makes this song a single is that it keeps in tact the Weather’s tendency towards ugliness, but it cleans it up a bit – sounding less raw and a tad more refined.
Sea of Cowards is a satisfactory yet predictable follow-up to The Weather’s first album, Horehound. A lot of the tracks from Cowards have recognizable similarities to some on Horehound, not necessarily in a redudent sense, but what would have really thrown the audience for a loop is a progressive step into an evolved sound that was still true to their first album but for lack of a better word, matured.
By Lacey Smalldon