Dan Melchior

Heavy Dirt

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On his third release with the Broke Revue, Billy Childish/Holly Golightly alum Dan Melchior serves up what is essentially fairly standard garage/blues/country fare; however, he does it with just enough of a dark twist and spark to make it interesting. Lo-fi and gritty, Heavy Dirt is timeless in that its complete avoidance of modern trappings allows it to sound as though it could have been recorded three days ago in a basement or 30 years ago in a garage. Album opener "Witch on Fire" is driven by some of the most delightfully grimey slide work this side of the Guinea Worms/Bygones, and the vocals, fuzzed-out and buried in the mix, play like an extra guitar line. The circular riffing of "I Was Born in the Country" rides out a guitar line that seemingly echoes that of the Country Teasers' "Bitches F**k Off." Both bands take standard riffs and rough them up a bit, and although Melchior's songs are not nearly as quirky and off-kilter as the Teasers', they should appeal to the same audience (something that the folks over at In the Red must have realized as well, as both bands are now on that label). "Fashion" ("The music you hear has been chosen for you/kid yourself that you can choose") and "Smile" offer some unexpectedly poppy call and response choruses, the former over a guitar line that recalls Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression," oddly enough. "You Know That I Will" dishes out lyrics like "If you want groceries, then go to a store/If you want to grow roses, then get some manure/But if you want lovin' that's hard to ignore/come to me baby and I'll give you more." Beautiful love songs indeed. While Melchior has the right moves and pedigree, something about the record is lacking in real hooks, which makes it hard to really latch on to the album. The result is that the album is likable enough as it is played, but not terribly memorable afterward, making it one of those records that will play well in the background at smoky late-night parties. Overall, Melchior's primal blues-rock offers plenty of the raw guitar work that is eagerly devoured by fans of Sympathy for the Record Industry and In the Red and groups like Gibson Bros., Oblivians, Bassholes, Country Teasers, Bantam Rooster, Immortal Lee County Killers, and perhaps even the less gritty offspring of those groups like Cash Audio (aka Cash Money, the rock band, not the rapper) and Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.

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