Sea Of Cowards Review

artist: The Dead Weather date: 11/07/2011 category: compact discs
The Dead Weather: Sea Of Cowards
Released: May 11, 2010
Genre: Alternative rock, blues-rock, experimental
Label: Third Man
Number Of Tracks: 11
Despite what feel like attempts at experimentation, restraint is most certainly the name of the game.
 Sound: 9.2
 Lyrics: 7.4
 Overall Impression: 9.2
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reviews (5) 14 comments vote for this album:
overall: 8.3
Sea Of Cowards Reviewed by: Thebiz, on june 29, 2010
1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: Last year we saw the fruits of yet another Jack White project come into shape as the Dead Weather released their debut album "Horehound". This record was released to well-deserved critical acclaim, and was firmly cemented as one of the best alternative albums of last year. Still, despite the positive feedback for the other members of the band, particularly Allison Mosshart, many critics and fans alike still considered the Dead Weather to be 'just another Jack White project'. With "Sea of Cowards", the Dead Weather just might silence those certain people. In just a year, this band has not only released an album that is better than its predecessor, but also more varied and experimental. Granted, the Dead Weather's debut was by no means generic at all, but this band's songwriting has matured greatly in such a short amount of time that it is hard to believe these musicians have any ounce of brainpower left to write music. From the get-go, the album opener "Blue Blood Blues" lets first-time listeners know what the Dead Weather are all about. This track is also one of the tracks where Jack White is on lead vocal duty. From there, the album twists and turns, offering great buildup tracks such as "The Difference Between Us" and "Gasoline", to mellow tracks such as "Hustle and Cuss" and "I Can't Hear You" (the latter having fantastic lead guitarwork) to the haunting vocals and instrumentation of tracks like "I'm Mad" and "Old Mary", the music never ceases to captivate its listener. // 9

Lyrics: The lyrics on this album repeat a similar formula used in "Horehound". Allison's haunting, tortured voice conveys many different emotions on this record: "You're a real jawkbreaker: a real crook, obscene. I'd call you a heartbreaker, but I reserve that for nicer things." (Jawbreaker) Though Allison has used her opinions of ex-lovers as a primary basis for her lyrics all along, some lyrical surprises surface on this album that weren't present on the debut record, i.e. implying certain dominating desires in relationships: "You can cry like a baby, just let me do what I need to. It might be to me or to you. Just let me do what I need to." (The Difference Between Us) Mosshart's lyrics, though straightforward and simple, are usually the superior and most relatable of the vocal duo. Naturally, when it's Jack White on vocals the lyrics change to a masculine point of view: "Check your lips at the door woman; shake your hips like battleships, and all the white girls trip when I sing at Sunday service." (Blue Blood Blues) Jack White's lyrics compliment the music well, but then again, most listeners tend to be pleased with Jack White's singing no matter what he belts out. And while Jack White's vocals are top-notch, his lyrics aren't - at times - particularly thought-provoking, instead choosing to rhythmically deliver lines with his signature voice and vocal stylings rather than make the listener think outside of the box: "You're looking at me like you know what you're talking about. Ain't nothing to see. Wave your hands in the dark woman." (Looking at the Invisible Man) Though White's lyrics tend to be the weakest point in the album, they are not weak enough to significantly hurt it, and will probably carry little to no effect in altering a listener's mind on the consistency and judgement of the album itself. White only sings lead vocals on two tracks, but his vocals are top-notch, and Allison brings her best to all her songs, and these things make up for the random Jack White ramblings that occur. // 7

Overall Impression: In comparing to other artists, all bands Jack White are in are doomed to be compared to The White Stripes and the Raconteurs. That would not be fair for this album, as every single musician performs at their best. Queens of the Stone Age's Dean Fertita brings riffs that could easily be in any one of his main band's songs, and bassist Jack Lawrence is also no slouch. Allison's tormented, cathartic vocals also aid in keeping the music fresh and seductive. Perhaps the main thing that sets this band apart from the others is the tone. The main vibe this band brings to the table that is different from each member's main project is that of darkness. This is a very dark record for what it is. A feeling of dread, carried through synth-lines, organs, and the basic rock instruments pervades the production of this album, to enticing and exciting effect. Though it sounds creepy written down, the vibe above greatly enhances the quality and meaning of the songs, and makes the album all that more enjoyable. If you haven't heard the Dead Weather, or are a fan of Jack White, or just want to hear blues-inspired, original rock music at its absolute best, do yourself a gigantic favor and listen to "Sea of Cowards". It is truly worth every bit of your time, money and support. Notable tracks: "Blue Blood Blues", "The Difference Between Us", "Die By The Drop", "Gasoline", "Jawbreaker". // 9

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overall: 8
Sea Of Cowards Reviewed by: red157, on june 07, 2010
0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: Last year saw a resurgence of a word, with it being applied to new bands more than ever before. This word was supergroup' and two in particular seemed to be plastered with such a title at every turn. Arguably the more deserving of the pair was Them Crooked Vultures; any modern rock aficionado's wet dream made very loud reality. Beating Homme and co to the punch however, was Jack White's new project The Dead Weather with their debut record Horehound. The product of a very natural coming together of familiar faces (all band members have performed on stage as part of White's other supergroup, The Raconteurs yes, even Alison Mosshart), the album began as an impromptu jam that ended up lasting three weeks. And predictably, the finished result was really quite good. Of course, not everyone thought so and these same people will be hard-pressed to enjoy the band's follow-up, Sea of Cowards. This second album is very much in the same vein as its predecessor, with White again proving himself to be an ample anchor for the rest of the band's talents. A new found sense of familiarity permeates throughout, most noticeably in regards to Dean Fertita, whose minimalist guitar style and fondness of synths no longer seems out of place alongside White's rattling drums threadbare production. This frequently gives the impression of musical worlds colliding...gently, with the positively fun Jawbreaker and the otherworldly The Difference Between Us being particularly strong results; it's raw, but not as we know it. With so many pieces looking for a place, it's almost inevitable that some aspect of the band would fall by the wayside and on Sea of Cowards it's Jack Lawrence. His contribution as bassist is closer to the reliable old Jack from The Raconteurs instead of the considerable presence found on the last record. That's not to say he's entirely absent, I Can't Hear You demonstrates what a good fuzzy bassline can do for a song, and that a healthy balance isn't beyond the band. // 8

Lyrics: Now despite enjoying The Kills for a few years now, Alison Mosshart's voice has never really impressed me, The Dead Weather's first included (the snarl verse/shout chorus thing has been perfected by many a female vocalist). Now nothing's radically different about her efforts here, but when allowed to go it alone, she's one of the album's strengths. More expressive than ever, Mosshart's multi-tracked howl brings venom to the vehicular themed Gasoline (take the boy out of Detroit...); a song possessing the most memorable lyrics of the entire album - So cool your engines for me, I don't want a sweetheart, I want a machine. Jack White again contributes vocals, though his solo flights don't quite match those of Mosshart's, or their duets for that matter (of which the lolloping I'm Mad is the most successful). // 8

Overall Impression: Despite what feel like attempts at experimentation, restraint is most certainly the name of the game. None of the eleven tracks trouble the four minute mark, bringing the length of the album to a lean thirty-five minutes in all. For the most part, this means no offerings are with the listener long enough to outstay their welcome, even if a few do still seem to have some life left in them. This punk ethos can't cover up the few faults the album has. As is to be expected from such a quickly produced second record, familiarity abounds, though the same excuse doesn't explain how a couple of tracks (No Horse and, to some extent, Blue Blood Blues) barely have enough ideas to sustain their short length. Not that this is a weak album in the slightest. Even at its most passive, Sea of Cowards is a great listen. It's the unrefined garage rock White's used to forced to traverse new and unsettling paths and the result is like little else. This project can go further, but there's still that little niggle, a voice asking why the drummer isn't holding a guitar in his real band. // 8

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overall: 9.3
Sea Of Cowards Reviewed by: unregistered, on june 11, 2010
0 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: First of all, Let me start off by saying that just because Jack White is in this band, that does not make it good on his merit alone. Allison Mosshart, Dean Fertita and Little Jack Lawrence hold a large amount of stake here, too. The sound here has a dark,"screw you" sort of attitude, all of the songs basically portraying it's singer, whether it be Mosshart or White, to be a total badass. One of the greatest things about this album is it's seamless transitions as you go from one song to the next, for most of the album, you don't even realize it's a different song until you hear different key tonalities and what not. // 10

Lyrics: The Lyrics, in all, are very well put together. The lyrics certainly compliment their respected songs. And whether it be Allison Mosshart or Jack White or Both at the same time, singing, the vocals are spot on. These two vocalists are the types of vocalists that go over and above to get the notes they want, and when their two voices cascade against one another, the sheer intensity is unexplainable. // 8

Overall Impression: As the Dead Weather's Sophomore album, I have to say it is much more impressive than the first one. The First album, Horehound, about 11 songs, 30-35 minutes long, wasn't all I thought it was going to be, but Sea Of Cowards shut my mouth immediately. Every song on the album is amazing, "Blue Blood Blues", the first track on the album, has such a catchy guitar riff, and the drums, Oh the drums, I don't know why Jack White picked up the guitar when he could play drums the way he does. But I digress. "Blue Blood Blues" transitions into "Hustle And Cuss", which contains such an attitude that screams "I don't give a sh--" And once the many Keyboards of "The Difference Between Us" Dies down and Allison starts having a duet with herself, you'll realise, "holy crap, this is just the third song" To go on, we'd List "I'm Mad" a song that describes itself, changing time signatures and speeding up Allison's vocals like how Pink Floyd did on Dark Side of the Moon, with the track "On the Run". The songs first single "Die By the Drop" has such well orchestrated instrumentation, from the distorted Bass, to the Distorted Synth to the heavy drums. What I love about this album, the most, is Jack White's Drumming With Jack Lawrence's Bass playing. (the bass is bigger than he is! Poor little guy). And the only think I hate about this album is that it could have been longer. But, I think it's length is appropriate. If it were lost or stolen I would certainly obtain it once again. I would have to! // 10

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overall: 9.3
Sea Of Cowards Reviewed by: roland_96, on december 14, 2010
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: Although all of you checked out "Horehound" for Mr. Jack White III, you're going to find yourself listening to "Sea Of Cowards" over and over for everyone in the band. From the dark funk of "Blue Blood Blues" to the ritualistic prayer of "Old Mary", you're going to be amazed how much The Dead Weather have upped their game. The record feels like a jam in every sense of the word: the goth-blues of "Horehound" have found it's way back to Sea Of Cowards, in a much more streamlined and better written form. Alison Mosshart's vocals on the album are as dark and treacherous as the music behind it. The riffs and synth lines provided by Queens of the Stone Ages Dean Fertita and the Greenhorne's Jack Lawrence are like madmen, being held back by Jack White's confident and swaggering drum work. The best thing about the sound is that you see all of the members of the band taking on a form you would hardly expect, especially White: Americana's sparkling face, playing country music on blues-y proto punk records during the garage revival in the early 21st Century hasn't reverted even further like his predecessors, but transformed into a black leather, ferocious form of himself that's barely recognizable. The whole band takes on this styles, and it shines through. // 10

Lyrics: Alison Mosshart is probably the most crucial element in making the Dead Weather work; croons unlike much I've heard before, especially from a female singer: she's sexy, she's dark, and most importantly, she's pissed. The sexual references put into blues in its advent have been taken to a new level. Song's like "Die By The Drop" find both Jack White and Alison howling and killing in the night like Bonnie and Clyde. While the experimentation in the music works for the record, the simplicity in the lyrics work just as well, the almost S&M sounding "I Can't Hear You" has Mosshart at her most swaggering. The snarls on "Gasoline" glide in between hot licks from Jack White, and even when Jack has lead vocals, like on the spoken word "Old Mary", she still comes of amazing. // 8

Overall Impression: Is this the White Stripes? Hell no. The great thing about this record is that it's the polar opposite while still maintaining a shape not unlike it. The sonic experimentation, the darkness, and the sex on "Sea Of Cowards" makes it more like the Stripes sexy older sister, and this time, you really can't resist. The only real set back is the album is so short, and gives you so little of the gothic nectar you're gonna crave after listening. The whole album puts the "terrifying" in terrific. The best cuts you haven't heard previous to purchase are the synthed up "The Difference Between Us" and the Guitar Hero-destined "Gasoline." To say this album is good really isn't doing it justice, because it's really just that good for anyone who loves dirty and dark rock and roll, and I'd recommend it to just about anybody. // 10

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overall: 8
Sea Of Cowards Reviewed by: gunnersandmash, on november 07, 2011
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: "Sea Of Cowards" has some great sounds and ideas. Jack White knows what to do as a drummer, Alison Mossharts agressive, raspy voice really, and Jack Lawrence produces some great bass lines, particularly on "Gasoline" and "Hustle And Cuss". However the man who makes transform the album to good but ultimately forgettable is Adam Federici. His modern synthesiser effects sound so original over what would otherwise be a very traditional and he nails out some great guitar riffs and solos. "Jawbreaker" is an overall highlight of his moving from a truculent keyboard riff to a guitar solo that can only be described as awesome. // 9

Lyrics: The lyrics would be the weakest point of the album by a long way. None are thought provoking, most are passable and some are nonsensical ("Shake your hips like battleships' blue blood blues") but they all give a sense of being made up on the spot. Alison Mosshart is a very specific singer who at some points moves out of her hard hitting genre which is great to see and highlights some of the originality of the album, and when Jack White takes lead vocals, he does just what Jack White does, simplistic blues which sound great. // 6

Overall Impression: The overall impression is that this a great album, brimming with originality. Although many disagree with me, and this isn't including every song, but I would call this part of the under exploited electronic rock genre, although the album includes aspects of blues, psychedelia and garage. The highlights of the album would be the opening, bass heavy "Blue Blood Blues", "The Difference Between Us", "I'm Mad", "Die By The Drop" and "Jawbreaker". This is exactly the kind of thing I would buy again simply because I need to as it is irreplaceable as there is so little like it and I would just have a need to listen to these songs again and again. My final point would just be don't expect The White Stripe, especially "De Stijl", I love that band but I brought this album for the wrong reason: Jack White. Don't get me wrong, he's on top form this album, but just in a different way to some of his previous work. // 9

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