Reviewing Dirty Pennies' new album 'Kick Out The Rocks'Have you ever checked up on a band you liked but haven't heard in a while? You look them up and everything seems different. They added a new member. The music has a new flair to it. Even their god damn profile picture looks more professional. Then you scroll down the info page and it all makes sense. New record label, a new promotion company. Your favorite bar room band is getting the ugly duckling treatment. It is a terrible fate when a no talent hodgepodge of experimental noise gets picked up. It is quite another feeling when it is a band that deserves attention. Dirty Pennies falls into the latter category. They deserve it more than most.
Dirty Pennies have been slinging blues rock across town for four years. Their name has been a staple on show fliers since they began. They have filled every local stage and dive bar with the sound of rough and ready rock n' roll. Despite prolific live performances, we haven't seen a release since the band's debut EP. That changed March 24th.
Released through Blue Brick Records, 'Kick Out The Rocks' breaks the long radio silence. The twelve song full length shows us the new and improved version of an already stellar band. There have been a lot of changes since we have last heard from them. They have added a new member. The blues rock power duo, Ryan Klem and Lucas Howe, have joined forces with bassist Joe Mungo to the mix. The addition adds a much-needed groove section the band's sound. Joe Mungo also seemed to infuse some indie rock licks into the roots-heavy music.
The Dirty Pennies' new album sways from old school to modern. The first two tracks could be from two different bands. 'Blood of Me' is a southern blues rock twangy, dirt road ditty. I had to check if it was a cover of John Lee Hooker. 'Explosions' on the other side of the spectrum more Arcade Fire than anything else. It is a change of pace, but a welcome one. The new sound casts a cheerier light on a genre of rock that gets too down on itself. The trio sounds like they are having a whole lot of fun in each song. The grit and gravity of their performance that still plants them as dirt road driving, dive bar drinking, rock. The single 'Kick Out The Rocks' is a 'Twist and Shout' style jukebox jam. The guitar playing in songs 'Woman of Mine' was ripped right out of R.L. Burnside's head. Their music is southern fried Strokes with a side of Lead Belly.
I could banter on for days about the influences and chords of each song. At the end of the day, it all boils down to one point. There is not a single song on “Kick Out The Rocks' that I do not like. Each song has its own character, its own personality. Have you ever heard a band try to make roots music sound too modern? It comes across like it's trying too hard. The Dirty Pennies is not one of those bands. They sit between the two genres, comfortable in their duality. When you live on both sides of the fence the grass is always green. You would never have combined those two sounds on your own. You are happy someone did.
Song To Listen To: The Drinking Song
Joe Palmateer is a freelance writer and music columnist. He previously founded the Rochester Insomniac Magazine and now knows too much about local music to stop writing about it. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.