Man o man. From the first note an onward, this album cooks like Wolfgang Puck. This is not my first go-round with the “Girls” (which also consists of two fellas). Their fist self-titled release was one of my favorites of that year and frankly it is still one of my go to’s. So, as a reviewer, I need to forget the first album and judge Dirty Power by its own merits. What I discovered by doing that is that this album is even better than the first. And that means something, considering how much I revere the first one. I can hear the recording evolution and the maturity in the playing and songwriting.
Barbara Endes, who plays guitar has really developed into one fine master of the axe.When I reviewed the first album, I coined the term “twangle pop” as the genre for this music. I think that moniker still applies as I hear a melding of late 80s/early 90s noise pop and some good country tinged rock and roll. All throughout the album, the harmonies are heavenly and really help to balance out some of the noisier elements. But what always comes through is Barb’s signature sound.
The most compelling song on the album for me isTwo Places At Once (Track 5). It’s four minutes and change and the first three minutes are all instruments. I though this song was going to be a guitar laden instrumental ala Dick Dale, but then we get a surprise. Barb starts singing about being in two places at once. Brilliant and unconventional. The Girls are really pushing the envelope and changing the definition of pop music for the better.
No great album would be complete without a protest song. And the Girls deliver withCommander In Thief (Track 10). I don’t think I need to go into too much explanation about the song meaning. The clever title pretty much sums it up. This track has some exceptional writing, harmonies and great guitar work. This should be played repeatedly at every college radio station throughout America.
The album starts off with one of the most inspiring and “twangry” guitar solos ever.Down At the Bottom (Track 1)seems to have more than one meaning. A double entendre, if you will. Another example of Barb’s songwriting prowess. “Come hang with me down and the bottom. Come play with me where the sun don’t shine.” Sounds romantic and a little dangerous. I like danger and this song has plenty of it. You know the old saying, “The greater the risk, the greater the reward”. Let’s all take some calculated risks. This song inspires me to do so.
I want to take a minute to mention all of the players on Dirty Power since there is plenty of great sounds that need to be praised. As I already mentioned Barbara Endes is on lead vocal duty and electric guitar. On bass is Dave Mandl. The other part of the rhythm section is occupied by Nancy Polstein, playing drums and providing backing vocals. David Michael Weiss also plays electric guitar and sings. Other musicians that contributed were Eric Ambel on the Wurlitzer piano and Graham Norwood who provided vocals onGot To Laugh To Keep From Cryin’.
This album has all the elements of greatness: strong writing, impassioned singing. loud and energetic instruments, and a strong sense of experimentation. Do I really need to say, “Go out and buy this album?” I hope the review speaks for itself.