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First Listen: The Dead Weather, 'Sea Of Cowards'

Jack White has long found a way to do virtually anything he wants in music. As the label executive in charge of Third Man Records, he's never pressed a CD, opting instead for vinyl- and digital-only releases. As the singer and guitarist for the godzillion-selling rock titan The White Stripes, he can't release a new album every few months, so he's made multiple names for himself with multiple bands; namely, The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather, which indulge his respective love of guitar-drenched power-pop and dirty, blues-infused rock 'n' roll.

The Dead Weather made its debut in July 2009 with Horehound, on which White collaborated with The Kills' singer, Alison Mosshart, as well as guitarist-keyboardist Dean Fertita and bassist Jack Lawrence, both from The Raconteurs and Queens of the Stone Age. Given White's tendency to act quickly and decisively -- a recent piece on All Things Considered has him describing his willingness to rush raw ideas from concept to completion -- it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that The Dead Weather has already recorded a follow-up. Sea of Cowards, which again features White sharing vocal duties with Mosshart and playing drums, will be available here for streaming in its entirety until its release on May 11.

Sea of Cowards is no sterile product of endless studio tinkering: At 35 minutes, it's a blistering and compact slab of thunderous, bluesy hard rock, whether it shines a spotlight on White (the sinister "Blue Blood Blues") or Mosshart (the slinky and biting "I'm Mad"). Born out of aggression more than invention, it's an appropriately barbed and consistently sturdy addition to White's rapidly expanding canon.

Please leave your thoughts on Sea of Cowards in the comments section below.

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)
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