Music Blogs - Blogged Blog Directory Add to Technorati Favorites

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Dirt Mall: "Got the Goat By the Horns"

Sounding like the lovechild of AC/DC and The Vines (remember them?), Dirt Mall is a pure garage rock band hailing from Boston, Massachusetts.  Like it or not, their sound is defined solely by the bands that came before them, as the music that they play is in no way original or "new."  Despite this minor setback, Got the Goat by the Horns is actually a somewhat satisfying album, albeit in the most primal of ways.

The album begins with what is probably its best track, "Hello Los Angeles."  In it, lead singer Johnny Aguish expresses his desire to pack up his things and move out west.  He sings, "Feel like I'm going nowhere/gonna move to Californ-I-A," and for the most part, you can't help but sing along with this one.  It's also on this song that we're introduced to the band's most talented member, Jason Murray, whose work on lead guitar is truly breathtaking rock 'n' roll!  His guitar solo on this song, and on others, is the stuff of legends, which is the highest complement I can give as I usually find guitar solos to be a bit excessive and cliche.  If I were the band, I would really try to get this song on the next Guitar Hero or Rock Band.  It's just that good.
It is, however, followed by the mediocre "Medicate (Today)" in which Anguish spouts, "Hey/get out the drugs/we got to medicate today."  Not the most eloquent drug song of all time, but this is a band called "Dirt Mall."  "Hopeless Bore" turns out to be a much more satisfying song, with yet another catchy vocal performance from Johnny.  The guitars are just as infecting, and during the hook Anguish actually syncopates with the guitar to great effect.  The solo is, once again, impressive, but it's not nearly as central to the song as it was on "Hello Los Angeles."  On "Rows" Johnny Anguish uses spoken words during the verses, and it doesn't sound near as bad as one would expect.  It's a nice change of style, and one that is explored later in the album as well.

And this leads us to the central track on Got the Goat by the Horns, a 9-minute song called "The Demons & the Damned."  Honestly, a song of this length is something that only the greatest of bands can pull off.  They require drive, focus, and enough surprises and changes to keep things fresh and interesting.  This is not one of those songs.  For all its passion, the song just drags on and on as if there's no purpose for its length - long for the sake of being long, if you will.  It doesn't help that the song wouldn't even be that good if it were 3 1/2 minutes.  Overall, it kind of feels like a waste of my time.  "Step Up" is equally as disappointing, with a boring vocal melody not doing any justice to the cool riff that the band has created.

"I'm Not Saying What You Did was Wrong but Your Timing Could Have Been Better" is not only a mouthful of a song title, but possibly the craziest song on the album.  Anguish once again speaks a good portion of his lines here, though the effect is not near as fulfilling as it was the first time around.  But the band plays with such raw, unadulterated energy and passion that being disappointed really isn't an option at all.  "Ghosts Descend" is the last song on the album, and the only song that actually slows things down and shows a different side to the band.  Murray once again impresses with an unbearably cool riff at about the 2:40 mark, but overall the song just isn't doing a whole lot for me.  

At 8 songs in length, Got the Goat by the Horns can feel a bit short, though I've definitely heard albums shorter than 33 minutes before.  The biggest problem with the album - or more specifically, the band - is, in fact Anguish's voice.  Throughout the length of the album, his vocals are thin and in no way impressive.  Even if the history of dirty garage rock is littered with vocalists who are much less talented, it doesn't change the fact that Dirt Mall's vocals were the biggest obstacle for me to overcome when listening to the album.  I was able to overcome this setback and enjoy a good number of the tracks in some way or another, but I can't help but feel that many listeners won't be a diligent as I have been.  However, for those with the (g)uts to tough it out, Got the Goat by the Horns can be a truly entertaining listen.

Recommended for fans of AC/DC, Wolfmother, The Hives, The Vines, or even Black Sabbath.

Key Tracks:
1. "Hello Los Angeles"
2. "Hopeless Bore"
3. "Rows"
4. "Im Not Saying What You Did Was Wrong but Your Timing Could Have Been Better"

6 out of 10 Stars

No comments: