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The Dead Weather

Iggy Pop Signals His Departure On 'Post Pop Depression'

Music ReviewSean McHughComment

Iggy Pop has got to be the single most overlooked “legend” in music (settle down, Mudhoney and Tears for Fears fans, it's just an opinion) – the guy has outlived contemporaries, pivoted with coming trends, more than stayed afloat following his departure from The Stooges, and never failed to impress with his frenetic style on stage despite being a spry 68 years old.

Pop is also the source of some of the finest tour diary anecdotes, including my personal favorite: Iggy Pop was once duped into opening for Flock of Seagulls in the 1980s. Understandably flummoxed by the disregard for his pedigree, Pop did what Pop does best – cause a scene. Enlisting the help of the tour’s production crew to craft a giant wooden cross, he painted his face green, and would drag the giant cross out on stage every night with the bewildering face paint only heightening his stage histrionics, which eventually got him kicked off the tour. It’s artists like Iggy that allow for present day “mavericks,” “renegades,” “free-spirits,” “weirdos,” etc. to perform in deranged manners minus any real career detriment.

A bastion of punk, proto-punk, art rock, and everything in between, Iggy has spent a lifetime of cavorting and writhing around on stage, and for 23 albums – including 5 Stooges records, one James Williamson collaboration, and 17 solo records (which includes a cover album recorded entirely in French, Apres) – he has managed to maintain his status as rock music’s most adept chameleon. His seamless transition from collaborator extraordinaire on his Skull Ring record in 2003 – featuring Green Day, The Stooges, The Trolls, Peaches, and Sum 41 – to his jazz record inspired by Michel Houllebecq’s novel La Possibilite d’une iˆle, Preliminaires in 2009; we’ve seen Iggy Pop cover just about every musical base a punk rocker from Ann Arbor, Michigan could conceive.

To that notion, anything that Iggy Pop puts out from this point on – be it a solo record, a compilation, b-sides, demos, or covers – should be celebrated as yet another fine accoutrement that adorns the already spectacular apparatus that is Iggy Pop’s discography. Unfortunately, when music legends release projects in the twilight of their careers, the efforts do necessarily ensure a maintenance of the gravitas that’s become synonymous with their name (looking at you, Bob Dylan’s Shadows In the Night). Fortunately, such a shortcoming is not the case with Iggy Pop’s most recent release, Post Pop Depression - a record so incomparable with past Iggy efforts, it could be argued that the former Stooges front man’s collaborative effort with Queens of the Stone Age front man-turned-super-producer Josh Homme could be the finest release of Iggy Pop’s career to date.

A nine-track sonic exploration of Iggy Pop’s Joshua Tree retreat – where Homme’s studio is located – Post Pop Depression features an unofficial “supergroup” as Iggy’s backing band – Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age, Them Crooked Vultures), Dean Fertita (QOTSA, The Dead Weather), and Matt Helders (Arctic Monkeys) – helping provide some of the fullest sounds ever featured on an Iggy Pop record. Post Pop Depression opens with “Break Into Your Heart,” a track that prominently features Iggy’s vocals asserting the affirmative recognition of Pop’s career, fueled by physical force and creeping persistence. The Homme production influence is practically instantaneous, as the warping synth and guitar sound akin to QOTSA’s Era Vulgaris tones, melded with the Arctic Monkeys’ Humbug style-rhythm and unobtrusive percussion (recorded at Joshua Tree by Homme), both of which provide the robust sonic anchor as the perfect inverse to Iggy Pop’s sinewy vocal proclivities.

As Post Pop Depression ventures further, the Homme hand becomes more and more noticeable – but in the best of ways – as “Gardenia” sounds like QOTSA’s “The Blood is Love” meets “Make It Wit Chu;” playful with hints of indignation. The bellowing timbre of Iggy Pop’s voice makes the poppy chorus – “All I wanna do is tell Gardenia what to do tonight.” – sound purposefully comical.

Third track, “American Valhalla,” is an interesting congruence of Iggy Pop ideology mixed with fairly unconventional instrumentation – at least for Iggy Pop. A song that originated from a Homme instrumental demo title “Shitty Demo,” featuring vibraphone and steel drum “motifs.” Interestingly enough, the vibraphone is turned off the entire track, so the noise adds yet another peculiar facet to an already strange steel drum melody. The Valhalla – an afterlife destination for only the most indomitable of warriors - focus stems from Homme and Iggy Pop’s text dialogue oriented on whether or not there is in fact an American Valhalla. Iggy Pop then spent the following day singing along with the track, eventually settling on possible answers to his original question – “I’ve shot my gun / I’ve used my knife / This hasn’t been an easy life  /I’m hoping for American Valhalla.” The rest of the song is considerably moving for an artist best known for societal skewering and romping around on stage.

The middle portion of Post Pop Despression begins to groove in a more familiar Iggy Pop fashion. “In The Lobby” features some deft stick work from Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders – a man whose involvement in his primary gig is already criminally under-acknowledged – helping provide a tight winnowing beat for Iggy Pop to prance around lyrically. Iggy Pop explores the realities of his inevitable age, and his shift from his peak to his his considerably more restrained present; death and disconnect becoming more and more apparent as album motifs.

Being a 68-year-old master of punk music, Iggy Pop could have accepted his peremptory status, continually speaking out against societal niceties and pitfalls (though “Sunday” explores Iggy Pop’s thoughts on corporatized living), but instead, he grapples with the banality of his eventual departure – well aware that his death is inevitable. It’s a perspective in music that has rarely been explored – someone totally comfortable with their life’s work, but still trying to feed the beast that is “purpose.” Songs like “Vulture” concern themselves with the unfortunate reality of being an aging public figure, running into people angling for some sort of financial reward for their end-of-life courtship; thus the songs title. “German Days” sees a return to the heavy-Homme’d soundscapes – thick base lines paired with airy guitar licks, as Homme even provides backing vocals that basically whittle German culture down into a four minute and forty eight second ode. “Chocolate” is an unexpected surprise for an album that has already established its rock-heavy trappings, featuring bells and chimes over a cool disco beat, it’s the first track on the album that really suggests this may be the last album we ever see from Iggy Pop.

If Post Pop Depression is in fact Iggy Pop’s definitive punctuating mark on his famously ungovernable career, it’s about as good a note he can go out on as any. Pre-meditated closing statements can be sad affairs – Glen Campbell’s Ghost on Canvas – and other times oddly premonitory – David Bowie's  – but this closing statement feels nothing like either of those sentiments. Post Pop Depression feels like the first of many further installments in Iggy Pop’s marathon-man career – forever indomitable in every aspect, and wry as ever – but then again, for a guy that’s been frolicking around shirtless on stage for the past 50 years, that may be the best way to go out.

The Top 30 Records of 2015

Music ListTransverso MediaComment
2015 year end photo.png

3. Beach House - Thank Your Lucky Stars

Thank Your Lucky Stars acts as both an extension of and pivot point for Beach House’s career as a whole. Many may want the band to actively change in a progressive way, but the band chooses to continually broaden their sound in the most familiar and microscopic ways possible instead. Perhaps one of the best integration of all five preceding albums, you hear the metronome, drums are crisper, individual instruments are audible, and Victoria Legrand’s lyrics are unexpectedly discernible at certain points. It's what works for them, and its afforded Beach House the ability to carve out a dream-pop legacy (and avoid becoming a caricature) on their own terms.

 

2. Majical Cloudz - Are You Alone?

Are You Alone? takes off where the Montreal duo’s preceding Impersonator left off; a paradox of bare-bones, minimalist soundscapes ebbing with lush depth that are somehow simultaneously tranquilizing and uplifting. Welsh’s immaculately vulnerable monologues and unflinching vocals are gently bold, and they drive their synth lullabies forward with severe care. It's Welsh at his most overbearing, and yet his tight grip is irresistible. Calculatedly organic, passionately controlled, it’s a journal reading in a dream.

 

 

1. Tame Impala - Currents

Currents is the most adventurous, interesting, and well-produced collection of songs Kevin Parker has created thus far, sitting atop Tame Impala's discography as the most mature and painstakingly crafted iteration in their twisted psych-pop world. From the lush synth tracks that bubble through the mix to his effortless, washed out vocals, every sound is rendered with the utmost care. Currents proves Parker is unable to stick with a certain sound, forever looking for new ways to evolve his ideas and push his project beyond what was expected when Innerspeaker first hit the shelves.

 

The Dead Weather Are Resurrected on 'Dodge and Burn'

Music ReviewSean McHughComment

Five years removed from the release of The Dead Weather’s second album, Sea of Cowards, the scrappy indie-supergroup relegated (or elevated, depending on your perspective) to Jack White side project, released their third album, Dodge and Burn.

Following some haphazard research (Google search: “Dead Weather new album promotion”), it has become increasingly apparent that the majority of music/lifestyle blogs and brands covering the Dodge and Burn release are under the impression that The Dead Weather is a project only signified by Jack White's presence and his growing relevance in pop culture.

For the sake of uniqueness, Transverso has elected to avoid diverting the reader with the ongoing and over-saturated melodrama of Jack White vs. Dan Auerbach, Jack White-Hates-Life memes, and the enigma that is TIDAL music streaming, and instead focus solely on his collaborative combination with Alison Mosshart, Dean Fertita, and (the apparently eleven-fingered) “Little” Jack Lawrence.

Dodge and Burn opens with the Zeppelin-leaning “I Feel Love (Every Million Miles),” with Mosshart caterwauling with a warped joy throughout the track. Fertita’s guitar stands out as the song’s flair piece, while White’s drums leads the track every which way, further extending the Bonham-esque nature of the song.

“Buzzkill(er)” and “Let Me Through” follow “I Feel Love” on Dodge and Burn, and both tracks fit the more “classic” Dead Weather sound – sonic allusions to Captain Beefhart, crunchy bass, unkempt drums, and the unhinged pacing. Both are solid tracks, but don’t necessarily offer as playful a tone as “I Feel Love.”

While the second and third tracks on Dodge and Burn maintain what’s familiar, “Three Dollar Hat” heightens the album’s diversity (and overall bad-assery) with a romp of a track. Batting cleanup, the song sounds like Kurt Cobain and The Mad Hatter got together to record an industrial rock track and blow it up one minute in. With only White’s vocals leading the track along, it only helps extend the screwball nature that has become The Dead Weather.

The middle part of Dodge and Burn hearkens back with sounds more reminiscent of Horehound and Sea of Cowards, though “Rough Detective” begins with a brief (but intriguing) sort of skuzzball jazz beat, eventually diving right into the scrappy rock and roll the band cut their teeth with. “Open Up” probably acts as the most archetypal Dead Weather song on the album, with a ravaging opening and the eventual swell into a massive crescendo that lays waste to any expectation of anything else.

Dodge and Burn closes out with a three-track cacophony of rock and roll blitzkrieg – a tight manifesto in “Mile Markers,” a vociferous unraveling with “Cop and Go,” and a triumphant exclamation point in “Too Bad” – and ends with a curious, almost Raconteurs-ish ballad in “Impossible Winner” that acts as a departure from the standoff nature of Dodge and Burn and instead offers the affirmation that The Dead Weather are not just another Jack White side-project, but in fact a full-fledged band that looks to continue for years to come.

The Dead Weather are Resurrected, Announce New Album 'Dodge & Burn'

Music NewsWeston PaganoComment

Five long years after their last record Sea Of Cowards, The Dead Weather are releasing a new album titled Dodge & Burn this September via Third Man Records.

The supergroup consisting of Jack White (The White Stripes, The Raconteurs), Alison Mosshart (The Kills), Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age), and Jack Lawrence "spent their rare and sporadic free moments over the past year recording together in Nashville" to create something "thick and heavy" that "will satisfy your urges for the dark magic that is The Dead Weather for a very long time." 

There will be no tour in support of the album, but there will be a deluxe version released in typical Jack White flair as Vault Package #25, which you can order here:

The LP will consist of eight new tracks and four singles that were previously released through Third Man's Vault subscription series, which you can sample below.