The Dead Weather: Horehound (Third Man/Warner Bros.)

The Kills. Queens of the Stone Age. The Greenhornes. The Raconteurs. The White Stripes. Members of these decibel-heavy groups constitute the Dead Weather, who have just released a sludgy, nasty and—not shockingly—loud album of excellent blues-rock.

Although the Dead Weather's focuses are Jack White and Alison Mosshart, Horehound stabilizes itself on impressive performances by Dean Fertita, playing inborn blues organ riffs and fiery guitar licks, and Jack Lawrence, using fuzz and distortion to cajole his bass into serious action. Mosshart is the de facto vocalist for the band, and her thunder-charged howl and smoky come-ons give the album a rugged ambiance; meanwhile, White trolls around playing cacophonous drums and guitar, wailing when the mood strikes.

Opening with Mosshart's strutting "60 Feet Tall," which balances quiet blues reveries with eruptive bursts of noise, Horehound establishes its theme of twisted and raw male-female relations. The Mosshart-fronted "Hang You From the Heavens" is all clawing, distorted blues counterpointed by White's "I Cut Like a Buffalo," a bumping, organ-drunk rebuttal.

Once again, White's rushed production is a mixed bag. The hasty recording gives the album a fractured feel, resulting in the instrumental meandering of "3 Birds" and generic blues riffing of "So Far From Your Weapon." Still, when the band fires successfully on all cylinders, it's thrilling. "Treat Me Like Your Mother" thrashes about wildly, while "Rocking Horse" is a crunching blues-noir number.

The last voice on neither the blues nor male-female relations, Horehound is still vicious fun.

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