New rock sounds from TBS & Dead Weather
SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil () - August 10, 2009 - 12:00am

Once in a while, in the process of finding something to write about for this section, I would find myself rewarded with the discovery of enjoyable music from surprising sources. Two of these happened with the albums of White Stripes and Taking Back Sunday (TBS).

It was the same way with both bands. I got a new CD by an unknown artist with an interesting name. And I decided to listen to it. First came White Stripes in the late ‘90s. White was for the leader Jack White and Stripes perhaps for his wife, Meg who sang lead vocals. No wonder they got divorced. 

Taking Back Sunday came along about five years ago. It was named not for anybody in the band but for their wanting to take back Sunday. And I thought it was a great idea. I am sure that if we can all recapture our stress-free Sundays of long ago, this will be a better world to live in.

The clincher in those instances though was the fact that both debut albums turned out great. White Stripes was the alternative sort while TBS was a kind of modern rock that blended pop and arena to become emo. But whatever the type of rock they do, both groups were fearless, energetic, expressive and sensitive to the nuances of the human expression.

Best of all, they knew their music and how to put elements together so they will sound right. New rockers out there, get this into your heads, loud and raw does not mean you can get away with wrong. Like math, there are aspects in music that are meant to be definite and which nobody can change. 

So from then on, I looked forward to getting new albums by Taking Back Sunday like Louder Now and Elephant by White Stripes. There might be some changes here and there like a new member for TBS or White forming a new band called The Raconteurs, but it was still White so I listened anyway and was not disappointed.

Their latest CDs arrived almost at the same time a week ago. New Again by Taking Back Sunday and Horehound by White’s latest group The Dead Weather. As before the albums evidence the prodigious musicality of the members and how many boundaries they decided to breach again. It is also obvious how much they all went out of their way to produce something worthwhile that their fans and anybody keen on good rock music would enjoy.

TBS continues to evolve and a lot of changes manifest themselves in New Again. That must be the reason for the title. Then there is a new vocalist in the person of Adam Lazzara whose style is closer to breathy pop than snarling rock. For another, there is more variety in the song line-up. Still the total package is more cohesive than previous albums, with smooth segues to the next for every cut. 

Fans will be surprised. There is Cut Me Up Jenny which bounces with a lilting melody and should do good in radio. Summer Man and Sink Into Me which are unlike any they have done. Catholic Knees evokes memories of prayer times. Followers from way back will love Everything Must Go, a power ballad that is vintage Taking Back Sunday. But the best of them all is New Again. This song sets the new direction Taking Back Sunday is moving into.

The Dead Weather is the super group of alternative rock. It is made up of Jack White of White Stripes and of The Raconteurs on guitars and piano; Alison Mosshart of the indie band The Kills on lead vocals, guitar and percussion; Dean Fertita of The Raconteurs and Queens of the Stone Age on vocals, guitar and keyboards and Jack Lawrence, also a Raconteur on bass and vocals.

I do not bother with band names as far as White is concerned. He is one of the greatest songwriters and guitarists of rock so any band he fronts is worth listening to. However, I think I’ll say, The Dead Weather more than the others. It is Southern blues but with hints of Goth and trance all blended colorfully into heavy rock. Then again, it might not be rock but I cannot think of any term with which to call this new combination.

60 Feet Tall sets the frenetic pace of Horehound. The great single Hang You From The Heavens picks it up and from there on, The Dead Weather turns in an engaging set without one mediocre cut. Included are I Cut Like A Buffalo, So Far From Your Weapon, Treat Me Like Your Mother, Rocking Horse, New Pony, Bone House, Birds, No Hassle Night and Will There Be Enough Water.

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