White Horse - Dirty Streets (Alive Naturalsounds)
No, I’ve never heard of them either. Dirty Streets are an assured, big sounding, thumping rock outfit from Memphis whose style of music I normally run a mile from. But “White Horse” is a compelling listen, if you can manage it in between bopping around the room.
See, there’s a sense of joy and excitement pouring out of Dirty Streets. They love playing, and there’s a real freshness to them. The production, recording, mixing and mastering is damn fine, too. It’s really up-front and vivid.
Back in the actual ’70s I think I was well and truly horrified by many of the bands everyone else seemed to love; that Dirty Streets can get me to revisit this terrain, and have me interested enough to want to hear more is high praise from this grumpy old goat. Perhaps it was just that I kept hearing the plod-plod of it all, the absurd pompous prattery more clearly than those around me …
So, no, the cover leaves me cold (but it’s very them), the pic of Dirty Streets on the inside I quailed at… but it’s the music, as ever, which calls us. Dirty Streets open with “Save Me” which reminds me a bit of early Aerosmith and Led Zep (!), but once again, the influences are kinda irrelevant. The thing is, not too many bands are doing this kind of stuff these days, and certainly not with this level of conviction. And that similarity continues, but I’d hesitate at pointing any fingers.
In a similar way, “Looking for My Peace” is rooted in those late ‘60s, early ‘70s huge rock monster bands, Dirty Streets (in particular Justin Toland) make wah-flooded guitar solos seem normal. By the time “Accents” rolls along we’re well and truly hooked, I’m afraid.
The big thing is that each song is carefully constructed, developing along odd, original lines… there’s a beautiful moment in “Accents” where the song relaxes into a gumbo piano with assorted drunks in the background before the drums regain the tune, kinda, and then they stop. This kind of risk-taking (obviously they have a bit of a different ending onstage) marks out Dirty Streets as a very special band.
I’ll leave it there, in fact, before the half-way point. If you haven’t scampered toward Bandcamp or Alive Nautralsounds’ online shop already, there seems little else I can do. Dirty Streets are a band who are way beyond merely competent, they’re making adventurous, broad-based, intelligent music which (once again) should really be tearing out of commercial radio via the major labels.
You’ll make your own mind up; but “White Horse” is one of those lps which comes along but rarely. Guitar heads like Sean Tilmouth will love it (even notorious codger Bob Short) but like I say, Justin Toland is an able arranger, allowing Andrew Denham (drums) and Thomas Storz (bass) plenty of scope to roam around. In fact, to some extent the wonder is that the band end up playing rock’n’roll, because there’s a lot of jazz elements to Dirty Streets (including the arrangements. These guys aren’t trying to be the Ramones). Hell, if you just use your graphic equaliser to fade down Toland you could arguably have a blast with the rhythm section alone.
White Horse is bloody excellent album, and it was a bit of a noisy thrill to discover that, despite the (bloody awful) cover there’s another CD I’ll be listening to for a good few years yet.