Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Best Albums of 2009: 1. The Dead Weather's "Horehound"

1. The Dead Weather “Horehound”

Clearly Jack White assembled his latest side project, the utterly brilliant Dead Weather, with one goal in mind; to make the bluesiest, sleaziest, sweatiest, dirtiest, sexiest, most villainous album of the year.

Well, he achieved this goal, and in the process made the best album of the year as well. The masterfully evil Alison Mosshart takes center stage on Horehound, howling away over one near-perfect-yet-perfectly-imperfect, blues-drenched, hard rock number after another, coming off like Patti Smith fronting Led Zeppelin in some backwoods bar joint in Louisiana somewhere. You can practically feel the sweat trickle down your cheek when White and Mosshart feign choking during the drunken, disorienting “I Cut Like A Buffalo,” and the tension only gets thicker when Mosshart croons “There’s a bullet in my pocket burning a hole/You’re so far from you’re weapon and the place you were born” on the slow burning “So Far From Your Weapon.” But its “Treat Me Like Your Mother” that finds the band hitting on something almost supernaturally good. The song strikes out like a caged animal from the second it opens; Mosshart rails against an ungrateful, no good man, wailing “Look me in the eye now/You wanna try to tell a lie?!/But you can’t, and you know why?/I’m just like your mother.” The tumultuous, stuttering verses give way to an eerily steady, droning chorus, with Mosshart repeating “You came home/Too late!” in the kind of tone you’d hear from a woman whose already made up her mind what she’s going to do about her man’s transgressions. No more talking, and no second chances.

“Rocking Horse” sounds like it should have been on the soundtrack to Wild Things (particularly the threesome scene), and the raucous Dylan cover, “New Pony,” which opens with the following lines: “Once I had a pony, Her name was Lucifer/I had a pony, her name was Lucifer/She broke her leg and she needed shooting/I swear it hurt me more than it could ever hurt her,” fits in just fine, don't ya think?

Inevitably, when we reach the end of our journey, at the haunting “Will There Be Enough Water,” in which White and Mosshart wonder “Just because you caught me/does that make it a sin?,” you may get this sinking feeling that perhaps you’ve just taken a sonic journey straight to hell. And you’ll be absolutely right.

This is the devil’s music, you know.

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