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Sea of Cowards

The Dead Weather

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Album Review

Sea of Cowards arrived less than a year after the Dead Weather's debut, Horehound, an album that sounded like a bootleg of a 3 a.m. jam session — not a surprise, really, considering that the idea for the band came out of impromptu playing at Jack White's house. It’s also unsurprising that the Dead Weather evolved quickly, given that the group went from releasing Horehound to touring to recording again almost nonstop. Sea of Cowards isn’t a radical change from Horehound’s smoky, sludgy sound — if anything, White, Alison Mosshart, Dean Fertita, and Jack Lawrence go even deeper into their classic rock and blues fetishes — but it feels more organic, the product of a band instead of four separate personalities. A quick glance at the album’s liner notes shows they wrote these songs in almost every conceivable combination, yet Sea of Cowards sounds more cohesive: dense and charged like the air just before a rainstorm, replete with fat basslines and heavy organ solos equally inspired by ‘70s album rock and silent movie scores. Most of Horehound's loose ends have been trimmed, but Sea of Cowards still has plenty of weird moments. Witness the lunging lead single and album opener “Blue Blood Blues,” which shows just how much more solid and dynamic the Dead Weather became since their debut — and also features breathy backing vocals that are more than a little creepy. Sea of Cowards also fulfills Horehound's promise of letting Mosshart be the band’s frontwoman. She carries many of these songs, adding spark and shade to their monochromatic tones. “The Difference Between Us” is a particularly bright spotlight for her, showcasing her intense vocals as the band’s blues-rock takes on a dark, sci-fi pop edge thanks to an eerie keyboard riff. Her interplay with White is also more intuitive and exciting: on “Hustle and Cuss,” they switch between singing lead and harmony, with White taking a high part and Mosshart the commanding low; on the trippy blues-metal workout “I’m Mad,” their voices are almost interchangeable, suggesting they could be brother and sister. Like Horehound, most of Sea of Cowards' songs grapple with the yin-yang of love and hate, with “Die by the Drop” and “Gasoline” yielding some of the most potent results. The album’s deviations from the Dead Weather's signature sound are also more distinct than they were on Horehound, but Sea of Cowards' weirdest track is all White's: “Old Mary,” a psychedelic dirge that plays on the verses of the Catholic prayer “Hail Mary,” closes the album on a unique, if unsettling, note. Sea of Cowards is often cryptic and almost always unrepentantly old-fashioned, its A-side featuring most of the singles and its B-side playing like one long jam. White and company make almost no concessions to their audience, and fewer songs stand out here than they did on Horehound. And yet, this is a more satisfying album overall. Fortunately, Sea of Cowards' mysteries are more intriguing than frustrating.

Customer Reviews

An Incredible Follow-up to Horehound - Just Buy It

I have to admit to being a little nervous as to how The Dead Weather were going to better the amazing Horehound album. I mean they have done nothing but tour since the debut album so was this going to be a rushed job? Oh man, I should never have doubted them. The album is incredible. Jack White, Alison Mosshart, Dean Fertita and Jack Lawrence have put together another amazing album. Jack White said this would be "harder and funkier" than Horehound and it is. It retains the rawness that, for me, is all part of it. It sounds as though they have just turned up and jammed. This kind of thing reminds me of The Rolling Stones briliant Exile on Main Street in terms of the rawness - I know the genre is different but I hope you get my drift. There is to my mind not a bad track on the album and this is judged on around half a dozen listens to the album since I downloaded this album first thing this morning. I was lucky enough to see them perform at Brixton last year and just pray that they cross the pond and play to their UK fans again with this album. To now have two albums plus a few songs from B-sides it should be a hell of a show. Please, just buy this album you will not be disappointed.

Amazing!

This is just awesome! There is no one else out there like The Dead Weather.

The sounds are absolutely amazing and so are the songs.

Love it!

Another joyous journey from the DW! If you have the first album, which is a stunner, this may not seem on first listen to be too much of a move on, but that's where it's genius lies. Listen twice, you get it a bit more, 3 times, and you're starting to think this is destined for awesomeness, 4 times, right that's it, chuck anything not technically brilliant in your iTunes in the trash. Congrats to the band for pulling another jaw droppingly good album out the bag.

Biography

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Another project founded by Jack White, Dead Weather began after the Raconteurs toured the U.S. with the Kills in summer 2008. Toward the end of the tour, bronchitis made it difficult for White to sing as much as usual, so Kills singer Alison Mosshart was drafted to sing several of his songs. Mosshart's on-stage chemistry with the Raconteurs led to White, Mosshart, bassist "Little Jack" Lawrence, and White's house guest, Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Dean Fertita, recording a cover of Gary Numan's...
Full bio
Sea of Cowards, The Dead Weather
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