Chicago Sun-Times
Tuning in with Thomas Conner

The Dead Weather, "Horehound" (Warner Bros.) [3.5 STARS]

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In addition to the fact that she's now Patti Smith's daughter in law, Meg White should be grateful she divorced Jack because fidelity obviously was never his strong suit. Already moonlighting with one side project, the arena-pop Raconteurs, the leader of the White Stripes has now signed up for a third gig, returning to his original instrument (remember his drumming in Goober and the Peas?) to back Kills vocalist Alison Mosshart, Raconteurs bassist Jack Lawrence and Queens of the Stone Age keyboardist and guitarist Dean Fertita.

There are hints of all those bands in the grooves of this disc, recorded quick and dirty at Jack White's home studio in Nashville, but the first question you have to ask with any super group, whether it's Chickenfoot or the Dead Weather, is "Would anybody care if it wasn't for the pedigrees?" For the latter, the answer is a resounding "yes," thanks to a deliciously dirty, grease- and oil-splattered garage-rock sound steeped in the raunchy, sex-and-violence vibe of the most mysterious and alluring blues. "I like to grab you by the hair/And drag you to the devil," Mosshart moans in "Hang You from the Heavens," a line that tells you all you need to know about the thematic concerns of these 11 tracks, which succeed because the grooves match them perfectly.

Though his vocal and songwriting contributions are limited--they're most notable on the epic "I Cut Like a Buffalo"--White's aesthetic permeates this album. Even better, though, is the fact that it's fueled by his joy at playing the devil's music. Showing no hint of jaded rock-star burnout, our boy from Detroit propels these sounds with more evil glee than we've heard since Nick Cave took a holiday of his own with Grinderman.

The Dead Weather performs with equally grungy openers Screaming Females at the Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield, at 7:30 p.m. July 28 and 29. Tickets are $30 via www.ticketmaster.com.

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This page contains a single entry by Jim DeRogatis published on July 15, 2009 10:28 AM.

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