The Dead Weather's haunting, heavy blues sound is as close to the devil's doing as the Robert Johnson's mythologized soul-selling deal to create the genre. Jack White's latest heavier-than-thou experiment continues his personal evolution of the blues — first in the proto-punk Detroit garage scene, next in hard psychedelic red-and-white guitar pop (The White Stripes), then in a crunchy-denim classic rock throwback (The Raconteurs) and now nestled somewhere between Led Zeppelin's woozy, "When the Levees Break" bayou doom and a sex-kitten growl.
The latter comes courtesy of Alison Mosshart of The Kills. Here she reveals her provocative, black-clad pipes — trading drum machines and sleek electronic pop for Southern gothic soul. Now behind the drum kit, White pummels minimal, John Bonham-sized and devastatingly hard-and-slow boogie beats. Also joining the supergroup are Queens of the Stone Age guitar man Dean Fertita and Greenhornes and Raconteurs sideman Jack Lawrence — both adding dense layers of guitar, bass, synthesizers and organs to the Mosshart/White vocal duo.
The 11 tracks on the band's debut Horehound (Third Man) lean heavily on loud, dangerous blues with occasional, fuzzed-out organ funk ("I Cut Like A Buffalo," "Treat Me Like Your Mother") and reverb-drenched spaghetti Western tombstone blues ("Rocking Horse"). The album's closer, the six-minute acoustic "Will There Be Enough Water?" is as close to tradition as the band gets — still, the lyrics go some place dark: "Even though you caught me, does that make it a sin?"
The band wraps up its spring tour at Jazz Fest two weeks before the release of its follow up, Sea of Cowards. If the first single ("Die By The Drop") is any indication, the band is still playing with hellfire. — Alex Woodward
The Dead Weather
3:45 p.m. Sunday, May 2, Gentilly Stage