HRH is having a friend sleep over tonight (complete with sleeping out in the back yard, bonfire, the works) and tomorrow we’re all going to Windmill Point for a swim and picnic. This afternoon however, I made up the 3400m I skipped out on yesterday morning and afterwards, I followed it up with this quickie 45 minute session with the heavy iron…just because. Today’s He-man soundtrack then is the ‘Dodge and Burn‘ album by the Dead Weather.
Released last year on the Third Man Records label, this is the 2nd album by the Nashville supergroup (their first in almost half a decade) consisting of Jack White, Alison Mosshart (the Kills), keyboardist Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age) and Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs, The Greenhornes). The band casually marries muddy blues with hard-rocking riffs, eclectic rhythms, and howling punk energy.
However, lost in all the star power is just how effortlessly experimental this music can be. When Mosshart’s wobbling yowl, accompanied by a crushing riff rumbling downhill, interrupts White’s ramblings and a slow-burning groove on ‘Three Dollar Hat‘, it’s merely a glimpse into everything that’s happening here.
The group’s approach is basically balls-to-the-wall (awesome for a weights workout), a chance to try anything and everything under an umbrella of creative autonomy. Filled with carefully assembled moving parts, they take decidedly high-yield risks that peel back sounds to reveal stunning alternatives. Where ‘Sea of Cowards’ (which I listened to not long before this blog existed) the bands sophomore album, mostly sloshed through a muck of heavy, growling blues and crunchy bass, ‘Dodge and Burn’ is more interested in wading through a smorgasbord of sound, anchoring itself to the sturdy sadness of blues but exploring much more sonic space.
The charged opening track, ‘I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)‘, is the first sign that things are a little different this time, with the spare swagger of ’70s metal and boogie rock providing a platform for some of Dean Fertita’s most unhinged guitar playing and some of Alison Mosshart’s wildest vocals. ‘Three Dollar Hat‘, one of White’s few lead vocal turns, is a hip-hop-tinged tale of revenge that reaffirms he’s always been more than a by-the-book revivalist.
Elsewhere, the album’s loose, try-anything feel honors the band’s roots in impromptu jam sessions, whether it’s Lawrence’s creeping bassline on ‘Buzzkill(er)‘ or the organ on ‘Lose the Right‘, which falls somewhere between dub and vintage horror movie music. However, the Dead Weather don’t just rely on chemistry and chops – the album also boasts some of their best-written songs. With its stark riffs and dense paranoia, ‘Open Up‘ rivals the best work from any of White’s other projects, while ‘Mile Markers’‘ layered menace and sensuality make it a standout. There’s a seedy, predatory undercurrent to songs like ‘Be Still’, ‘Cop and Go’, and ‘Too Bad’ that suggests the album could be the soundtrack to a gritty crime drama, with the gloriously melodramatic ballad ‘Impossible Winner‘ playing as the credits roll.
And with this workout in the bag, it’s time to entertain two 11-year-old girls for the evening with roasting marshmallows, hot dogs, etc., f]oh, and we have a tent to set up too.
we they don’t get eaten by the coyotes.