The Dead Weather
"I Cut Like A Buffalo" whips up a hell-mix of the lamest Ghost World-mocked genres, with equal parts reggae and howling white-boy appropriation of the "authentic way-down-in-the-Delta blues." But instead of Blueshammering on about the cotton fields, White bleats nonsense. "I look like a woman, but I cut like a buffalo." Translation: My appearance might be effete, but I'm secretly fearsome, so much so that I could be compared to an easily hunted creature that's now virtually extinct except where it's farm-raised to produce burger substitutes for health-food hippies. "Buffalo" also includes a slapstick routine in which White chants "Is that you choking? Or are you just joking?" while Mosshart gurgles, sputters and whinnies. In case this doesn't sound horrible enough, I'll remind you again: reggae.
The Dead Weather covers Bob Dylan, but they had the decency to select a song from his wretched late-'70s soul-pop record Street Legal, so nothing of value was tarnished. "New Pony" stands out for Mosshart's obnoxious emulation of Dylan's backup singers: He had three, so she tries to belt out "Come over here, pony!" with three times the effort. She ends up overexerting like noted voice-torturers Nikka Costa and (White Stripes debaser) Joss Stone. It's as though she coughed up whatever soulfulness she possessed, then kept wailing as the soul writhed helplessly on the floor.
On the rare occasions that The Dead Weather successfully executes a basic blues melody, they overextend it until it becomes banal. The best Muddy Waters songs felt primal and fierce because they were short as fuck; his 50-song Anthology averages less than three minutes per track. White seems to draw his inspiration from Waters' label-dictated, psychedelic-rock-infused albums, records Waters himself later disowned: "Every time I go into Chess, [they] put some un-blues players with me... That Electric Mud record was dogshit. But when it came out, it started selling like wild, but then they started sending them back. They said, 'This can't be Muddy Waters with all this shit going on, all this wah-wah and fuzztone.'" Forty years later, here's White with some un-blues players: all fuzztone, all dogshit.