Clean Dirt - The Tough and Lovely

If Johnette Napolitano fronted the Vaselines for a couple of records that came out on K, while Calvin was still doing a lot of the production, this is what it would have sounded like.

Lara Yazvak’s swaggering alto nails the plaintive, I-know-just-a-little-better-than-you aesthetic that permeated the early-90s non-grunge Seattle sound, from Mecca Normal to Girl Trouble, and culminated in Elliot Smith’s Heatmeiser and his much-lauded solo work. The hooks are pure pop. Not corporate, buy-this-because-we-tell-you-to pop, but holy-crap-I-can’t-get-this-song-out-of-my-head pop.

Andrew Robertson never seems to turn the distortion up past three, maybe four, but the result is driving and grungier than anything Tad or Love Battery could have hoped for. It’s a clean dirt, like a modern reassertion that Lux and Ivy invented “Psychobilly” in Ohio in the 70s, and that without our great state nothing harder than Warrant would have come out of the 90s.

Their amps may only go to ten, but, so what, they’re only using three anyways. They still rock harder than almost everyone with full stacks of Marshalls.