Release Date: Feb 1, 2011
Record label: In the Red Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Garage Punk
Click to listen to the Dirtbombs' "Cosmic Cars" and "Sharevari" Detroit's music has always driven across racial and genre boundaries. But when a longstanding garage-rock band with a black frontman loads its album with covers of Euro-inspired Motor City techno classics, galaxies implode. The Dirtbombs open in the Eighties, psychedelicizing urban-wasteland sci-fi paranoia from Cybotron, powerchording Inner City's electro-soul optimism, and nailing the Italo-trash sleaze of A Number Of Names' "Sharevari." Eventually they stretch Carl Craig's 1992 "Bug In the Bass Bin" into a 21-minute space-jazz endurance test.
There are theoretically an infinite number of ways to start an album, but several patterns have become standbys in the rock ‘n’ roll playbook. There’s the faux rehearsal (the muffled chatter and amp heartbeat flickering in Radiohead’s “2+2=5”), and then the pretty acoustic guitar strum (Neutral Milk Hotel’s “The King of Carrot Flowers, Pt. One”).
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.
The conceit of the Dirtbombs covering dance music is genius. The field of music is increasingly referenced in contemporary pop yet hardly understood in the mainstream sense (sadly, Pauly D is perhaps the celebrity du jour with an opportunity to shine some light for the masses -- assuming he's not busy fucking a tangerine). The '80s "heck-no-to-techno" mindset makes increasingly less sense today as synths, drum machines and electronics dominate our sonic sound-scape.
As far as garage-punk bands go, Detroit's Dirtbombs have about everything you could want: a magnetic frontman, a famously frantic live show, a handful of songs catchy enough to show up in TV commercials. But Mick Collins has never been content to run his band as just a garage-punk band. Instead, he follows his batshit conceptual tangents wherever they might lead him.
There's a point at which bravery tips over into stupidity and, for the Dirtbombs, that point comes on the sixth track of Party Store, the garage band's fond tribute to the techno forefathers of their home city, Detroit. Their version of Innerzone Orchestra's Bug in the Bass Bin is as long as a side of old-fashioned vinyl, and kills dead the momentum they have built up. And that's a shame, because this unlikely pairing of guitar veterans and the dancefloor otherwise manages to retain rock's visceral thrill without sacrificing the futuristic strangeness the songs once embodied.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that Mick Collins and his cohorts, also known as The Dirtbombs, are avid enthusiasts of the Detroit music scene, having earned a reputation as one of the city’s most formidable live acts in their 15 years around, during which they’ve released a slew of 7” singles, EPs, and four full-length albums. It should also come as no surprise for them to release a covers album; their sophomore effort was devoted entirely to reworkings of soul and funk numbers from the likes of Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and George Clinton. Just as they transformed these groovy, r&b jams from the ’60s-’70s into hard-ripping, though somehow soulful, garage punk anthems, they’ve now released their fifth proper long-player: again, a record comprised entirely of covers, this time, sampling influential techno artists from the ’80s-’90s, all of whom hail from Detroit.
A garage band with one foot outside the garage, the Dirtbombs has always seemed bent on expanding their horizons, retaining standard rock themes while making room for more extensive explorations. Their last album, 2008’s We Have You Surrounded, took on a post-apocalyptic concept in the context of short, gritty songs, shaping a larger narrative while eschewing the usual flab associated with this kind of undertaking. On the heels of such a tight, surprisingly well-executed lark, Party Store appears woefully half-baked, a slack attempt that never really coalesces into a whole.
A curious collection of techno covers from the Detroit garage-rockers. Mike Diver 2011 Certainly sure to be among the most curious releases of this year come December’s look back at all that’s been, The Dirtbombs’ fifth long-player finds the Mick Collins-fronted Detroit garage-rockers presenting their takes on hometown techno tracks from the 80s and 90s. It’s not completely virgin territory for the raucous quintet – a decade ago, their Ultraglide on Black album collected covers of soul and funk classics including cuts originally by Stevie Wonder, Sly Stone and George Clinton.