Memphis' throwback, garagey-arena rockers, Dirty Streets, were clearly brought up on copious amounts of rocknroll, Stax soul, Howlin' Wolf's howl and harp skills, Hubert Sumlin's guitar, and heavily percussed psych and prog rock. Perhaps best described as a bit Troggs meets Flaming Groovies, a smattering of MC5, a sprinkle of Captain Beefheart, some Grand Funk Railroad, a pinch of ZZ Top-esque build ups and licks and your approaching their bitches brew. The band's 4th full length and second on Alive Naturalsounds is a flat out doozie. Captured at the shrine that John Fry built, Ardent Studios, home to the ever growing legend of Big Star and Alex Chilton, still worked at by the one and only Jody Stephens (Big Star drummer), and home to the past couple Lucero records, the trio were well represented in the studio department. Dirty Streets were no slouch on their end of that bargain either. They brought beautiful noise for Ardent's Matt Qualls to reel in, in the form of foot stomping wide open rockers all the way to shit kicking acoustic country soul, White Horse, as a record has left no influential stone uncovered.
Hands down an honorable mention for a best of 2015 list and if I'd made my list a few weeks later, White Horse would have seamlessly ended up some where in the middle of the pack. Alive Naturalsound is stacking up as a label with the new signing of the garage, punk, blues duo the Bonnevilles out of Ireland and already 2 of my favorite records of 2015 on their roster, chances are if you're not aware of them they ought to have earned a place on your musical map. However, Dirty Streets' latest offering is crowned by the perfect opener in "Save Me", Andrew Denham calibrates your inner rhythm with his drum kit and then it's riff city for Justin Toland's guitar (and vocals) and Thomas Storz's bass guitar in and out of that backline like a dark serpent rattan for the next 3 1/2 minutes. Personal favorite "Accents" fans the psychadelia flame, with a jangly come hypnotic acoustic guitar fill built on heavy percussion like a steam engine fueled by wah-wah guitar solo's and a drop dead bass line down the mountain and headed for a curve with no guard rail only to be caught at the last second by a fade out acapella into nonsensical group shouts and chants-- it's just as cool as it sounds.
Acoustic gem "The Voices" is a country soul ditty hell bent on truth tellin' but eternally stuffing down emotions until there's a song like this with a shaker and two guitars to let it all out. Repentent if not transparent, it's dark country soul in it's element. White Horse is just that, the white horse surfing the realms of garage rock, funky stoner soul, raw glam rock, and extended psych jams, sticking out like a sore thumb in some obtuse landscape painting running in it's own direction in a herd of dull colored "work" horses just keeping pace. Stacking the deck for last finds "Dust" in its somber yet cosmic web of psych tinges and twitches and the horse sounding, slide guitar driven title track round out the journey from the Memphis trio, in all its glorious garage rock breakdown and shattering cymbals, ending the record just as it started in a haze of American rocknroll. The takeaway: Follow no one, think for yourself, form your own spin on this thing called life. ( No Depression :: 1/7/16 )