Dirtbombs | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


"We're not a garage band," claim Detroit's Dirtbombs on their Web site--which is pretty rich considering that front man Mick Collins more or less single-handedly launched the Motor City's garage rock renaissance back in the 80s as the leader of the Gories. Still, one can sympathize with their urge to distance themselves from that increasingly debased tag even as they breathe new life into the sound it connotes. Nothing in the neo-garage canon tops their 2001 Ultraglide in Black, a delirious compendium of covers--most of them soul classics--heaped high with raunchy guitar and distorted bass grime. Their new album of originals, Dangerous Magical Noise (In the Red), is nothing to sneeze at either. Collins is only a journeyman songwriter (at least compared to Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, and Sly Stone), but the band's raw, whomping, two-drummer assault more than compensates for deficiencies. The album opens with "Start the Party," a hard-charging stop-start number adorned with a "Ramblin' Rose"-style falsetto chorus and ridiculous canned crowd screams. "Don't Break My Heart" is part overamped Merseybeat, part Little Richard, and all rock 'n' roll. A couple of the best tracks--the midtempo, relatively dynamic "Sun Is Shining" and the Bo Diddley-esque "Earthquake Heart"--carry over some of the soul vibe of the previous album. When I first saw this band two years ago they delivered a clumsy, bludgeoning set, but by the time they played the Hideout Block Party last summer, they'd evolved into a very solid live act. The Baseball Furies open. Thursday, March 11, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Add a comment