Sunday, April 3, 2022

DIRTBAG REPUBLIC "Tear Down Your Idols"


(c) 2022 Shock Records/Vanity Music

  1. Main Objective
  2. Skinny
  3. Wannabees
  4. Days Are Gone
  5. Don't Answer To No One
  6. Tear Down Your Idols
  7. Sorry
  8. Did All I Could
  9. Superficial
  10. When I Was Young
  11. Turn Back Fast
Sandy Hazzard--Lead Vocals
Mick Wood--Lead Guitars
Mike Federici--Guitars
Dave Worden--Bass
Ed Nijjer--Drums, Percussion

Sometimes you can pop in an album and just hear the filth.  You can smell the sludge.  You swear you can see the sleaze and slime and sweat just boil out of the speakers.  Pretty is not a word you would ever use.  Never.  And the latest from Dirtbag Republic is one of those albums.  Simply put, there is nothing "pretty" about the record, Tear Down Your Idols.  This is gutter rock, plain and simple.  From the moment the first chords of "Main Objective" hit, it is apparent this isn't something polished or shiny, but it is kick ass.  Punky, sleazy, and chock full of angsty attitude, the track has the balls to declare that "as long as I'm alive, Rock and Roll will never die"...and you believe it!   Wood's guitar work is catchy as heck, and Hazzard's raspy snarl fits the attitude of the track perfectly.  No, it may never be mainstream, it may never be popular, but it is going to be honest as long as Dirtbag Republic has something to say about it, and they say it fast and loud right out of the gate. 

"Skinny", believe it or not, is a song about eating disorders.  Yep, you read that right...anorexia nervosa, to be specific (which is somehow rhymed with the word "closer" in the chorus.  Trust me...they make it work).  Hazzard sings about a formerly beautiful girl who subsists on a steady stream of diet pills from her medicine cabinet in an effort to remain lithe, with the guitats of Wood and Federici chewing away any excess fat the song may have had, and the tight rhythm section of Worden and Nijjer keeping things grinding along at a frantic clip.

"Wannabees" has a bit of a Faster Pussycat feel to the guitar line (think their sleazier stuff from the debut record), with Hazzard howling about rock n roll being his addiction/conviction on a rollicking track that features one of Wood's catchiest, if relatively-speaking, simplest solos.  Check out the boys below...

Three consecutive tracks sum up the feel of the record for me, as they encompass everything that Dirtbag Republic does so weill.  "Days Are Gone", is a tribute to the early lifestyle of a younger Hazzard, who snarls about doing drugs at 13, smoking hand-rolled cigarettes, and carrying on with his punk friends' antics in days that are long gone.  You get the feeling he isn't necessarily glamorizing the days so much as he's pining for the simplicity of a younger, simpler time when he could just be a kid and dream of being a rockstar by emulating his heroes.   "Days Are Gone" is definitely one of the best tracks on the record for me, from the catchy rhythm to the easily followed chorus and the nostalgic bent of the lyrics.  There's just something about this song that makes me smile and hit repeat a couple of times before moving on...and eventually moving back!

"Don't Answer To No One" drops a barroom piano into the gritty mix to embellish the sound of the raucous rock n roll romp and is definitely one of the contenders for top track of the record, along with "Days Are Gone".  Wood unleashes a phenomenal solo here, and that uncredited piano really bolsters the fun attitude of the track.

The album's title track, "Tear Down Your Idols" hits next, and the bouncy fun of "Don't Answer To No One" is replaced by a stark sneer as Hazzard pokes fun at fans who tear apart bands they supposedly love until this hit the big time.  The band then points that same snarky finger at the bands that do everything they can to milk a bit more cash out of those same fans, who hang on a bit...or a decade...too long, doing whatever they deem necessary to remain relevant instead of remaining true to themselves and the music.  Punkish and starkly honest, "Tear Down Your Idols" can make just about anyone really take a look at themselves and analyze if they are being honest and true with themselves.

There is really nothing I can find to complain about on this album, and the rest of the record bleeds great track into great track.  "Sorry" finds Wood absolutely melting down on his solo, ripping into a his lead with a vicious assault that is amazing to hear.  "Did All I Could" pushes everyone else aside long enough to give the bass a bit of a run of its own for a few minutes, but also finds that Dogs D'Amour-ish piano jumping back into the fray on a song that feels like it wants to get emotional, but does so while continuously punching you in the face with its raunch-and-roll attack.  "Superficial" carries on in much the same vein, amping up the rock n roll energy of days gone by, with Wood bringing to mind what Chuck Berry might have done on guitar had he been bending strings in 2022 instead of 1962 with one of the catchiest riffs and hooks on the album.  "When I Was Young" is probably my least favorite track on the album, which is an odd statement to make, as I actually like the track.  It just stands off a bit from the rest of the material here, at least for me, but I would never dream of skipping it, even if it meant getting to the kick-ass closer, "Turn Back Fast" just a tiny bit quicker!  Once again, Dirtbag Republic proves they as much about the riff as the anything, and Wood tears into a nasty one here, and this aggressive rocker is the perfect wrap on an absolutely killer record that I keep finding myself drawn back to time and time again.  

In the end, Tear Down Your Idols is all about rock n' roll, plain and simple, gritty and grimy, down and dirty.  Big hooks, catchy riffs, and gritty vocals litter the landscape of an album that just never lets off the gas and punches forward track after track.  For me, this is likely the best album by Dirtbag Republic, and I have liked everything they have done in the past.  If you are a fan of sleazy, punky rock, whether it be the previously mentioned Dogs D'Amour, relative unknowns such as Crank County Daredevils, modern sleaze rockers like Hardcore Superstar, or even Hazzard's work on Doll Hazzard , which he assembled with Chris Damien Doll of Suicide Bombers, you are going to find something to sink your teeth into on Tear Down Your Idols.  This is definitely an album you should be adding to your collection, and one I am glad has found its way into my own player repeatedly.

Rating:  Crank this to an excellent 8.5!

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