The Dirtbombs

Party Store

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Mick Collins' love of Detroit techno may come as a surprise to those who know him only as the guitar-strangling frontman of the Dirtbombs, but coming of age as he did in Detroit, it was hard not to be swept up in the sounds coming out of the clubs and filling the bins in local record stores. Men like Derrick May, Juan Atkins, and Kevin Saunderson were heroes to a generation of Detroit music fans, and Collins was no exception. Much like the Dirtbombs' Ultraglide in Black album paid tribute to the soul and R&B heroes of Collins’ youth, Party Store pays tribute to the techno pioneers of Detroit. Hearing this, the first question you might have is how can the thundering and raw lineup of two drummers, two bassists, and Collins' scorching guitar do justice to, say, “Strings of Life?” The answer is pretty simple. The band pretty much plays the hell out of everything as usual and it works like a charm. They rip through the Cybotron anthems "Cosmic Cars" and "Alleys of Your Mind" like they were old Pebbles tracks (the only giveaway being Collins' robotic vocal delivery), charge through the Aztec Mystic's "Jaguar" like it was an old blues-rocker (though they add a pulsing disco beat and some drum machine), and give Inner City's "Good Life" an energetic kick in the pants (and thanks to some wonderfully janky-sounding guitar work by Collins). Elsewhere, they turn Carl Craig’s “Bug in the Bass Bin” into a 20-plus-minute epic of noise, drum duals, and spooky atmosphere (and keyboards from Craig himself), shout and wail through a too-brief version of DJ Assault’s “Tear the Club Up,” and give Derrick May's "Strings of Life" a no wave disco makeover that loses the melody but adds some lo-fi kick. Apart from "Good Life," which features some truly great vocals from Collins and bassist Ko Melina, and could be a breakout hit for the Dirtbombs, the album’s highlight is their take on A Number of Names' weirdo electro-pop song "Sharivari." The band dials the intensity way down and slinks through the groove like a well-tuned disco machine, Collins appropriating the cornball French accent of the original and the guitars laying back, only to leap out in brief bursts of fuzz. It’s a genius cover and the one track that almost tops the original. Collins wasn’t looking to top anything, though, just honor the innovators and the city that spawned them, and Party Store does it with scuzzy style. It’s easy to guess that most of the guys paid tribute to here wouldn’t know what to make of the tracks, but if anything here leads the average garage rock-loving Dirtbombs fan back to the sounds of Detroit techno, the album will have done its job.

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