11/17/2005 - Review by: Vinaya Saksena
Dirty Americans - Strange Generation - 2005 - Liquor & Poker
Fast forward to 2005: The Workhorse Movement is no more, but three of the former band members (plus a new drummer) have ditched the rap influence, added loads of Me Generation features to their sound and image, and re-christened themselves The Dirty Americans. The bandís press material makes much of their seventies-derived sound (which idiot music critics will likely pigeonhole as Ď80ís-derrived, as they do pretty much anything with guitar solos and intelligible vocals) and the use of retro imagery even on my sparse promo copy of Strange Generation borders on ridiculously self-conscious. So for all those fans (myself included) who clamor for anything that smacks of the surprisingly creative and diverse era of rock that was the 1970ís, are these guys our saviors? Not quite, Iím afraid.
Opening cut ďNo RestĒ rumbles along simply but brilliantly with a pounding triplet groove, and a catchy chorus. ďCar CrashĒ really does sound like a musical product of the Motor City, which is repeatedly pointed to as the bandís home in their press material. The title track? Whatís this I hear? It sure as hell donít sound Ď70ís (though the bio once again says otherwise). In fact, it sounds like the best song the frigginí Foo Fighters never wrote, complete with vocals that are a dead ringer for Dave Grohl for cryiní out loud! Not bad, but come on guys- youíre supposed to be a seventies-type band (so says your bio, again!). If youíre gonna go around trying to be some sort of living, breathing musical time machine, ya gotta stay in character, damnit! Anyway, much of the rest is predictable, but welcome old-school riffage, although the recording reeks of Pro Tools and digital modeling amps in places. The songs, with the exception of a couple of mellow ones (these guys canít do ballads for beans, Iím sorry), are fine. The problem, as you might have guessed by now, is the sort of second-guessed nature of its presentation. As much as I enjoy portions of "Strange Generation", there is something safe, predictable, and self-consciously pandering in itís retro mechanisms, making it seem like a pre-packaged, marketing age imitation, rather than the real thing (kind of like a heavier Lenny Kravitz). Being a Ď70ís rock nut like few twenty-somethings I know, I really wanted to like this disc. And itís not that I donít like it. Itís just that for some reason, my cynicism towards modern, demographic-based mass-marketing raises a red flag even as I try to groove along to this stuff.
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