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20 best albums of 2009: 14. The Dead Weather - Horehound (released July 14, 2009)

Jack White likes to stay busy.

Perhaps best known as the singer/guitarist of The White Stripes, Jack White also stays busy playing guitar and singing with The Raconteurs and producing and engineering acts like Loretta Lynn and the Von Bondies.

His latest project – The Dead Weather – finds the always-busy White splitting songwriting duties with Alison Mosshart on his latest project, dubbed Dead Weather. “Horehound” is the debut album for the group.

Mosshart also co-fronts The Kills, a distinctly stylistic lo-fi London-based outfit. She originally hooked up with White when The Kills opened for the Raconteurs in 2008.

Dead Weather came from an early 2009 two-week jam that quickly morphed into a recording session, according to White in an interview with The Toronto Star.

“Things just started to happen. We didn’t have a direction. We just went a song a day, two songs a day, whatever we could do and recorded them on the fly… There was no time to think about what it was. It just was,” White said.

Mosshart’s ability to grab the reins of such an intimidating musical beast is impressive. Her offerings feature an understated intensity and crackle with energy.

“New Pony” hits like a freight train and where other singers may be tempted to scream and wail away, Mosshart shows great restraint and taste while still giving the track a biting snarl.

“I Cut Like a Buffalo” and “Will There Be Enough Water” deliver White Stripes fans their fix of Jack White genius, but Mosshart is the real star here. “Treat Me Like Your Mother” give the two bandleaders a chance to trade vocal lines in a powerful and rollicking call and response motif.

Jack White has done it again. The Dead Weather attacks the listener differently – but no less powerfully – than his other projects. He has found a powerful new cohort in Mosshart and the album establishes her as a heavy hitter in the rock world.

White can be called many things, but lazy is certainly not one of them.

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