Dirt Bike Annie, Show Us Your Demons (Dirtnap Records)
It only took about 30 seconds of listening to DBA’s record before I was hooked and excited. Their immediate energy was palpable. There was a taint of dread — would the rest of the songs blow me away like the opener, “Battle Lines” had? It’s a prickly position for a band to put themselves in – opening with such an ass-kicker – but when your material is as good as DBA’s, you can be this confident.
Their style is super up, hyper, hooky rock. There are clearly underground elements to the band but not a hint of punk’s anger or emo’s sappiness. Their drums and bass are solid and their two guitars play together well – no intricate intertwined riffing, but two complementary rhythm instruments. Their real musical power is in their vocals and lyrics.
Enough cannot be said about how strong their vocals and vocal arrangements are. Singers/guitarists Adam and Jeanie share vocals – each takes lead in different songs and backs the other up (along with bassist Dan). It is the “background” vocals that really punch the songs into fifth gear.
Never relying on simple doubling or harmonizing, they run the gamut of vocal support. “Not An Eagle Scout” features first a counter vocal melody in its chorus, then shouts, a nice choral “ahh” during the bridge, and finally a schoolyard chant — all while the song races ahead from part to part. Ordinarily such ambitious arranging might get messy, but, mostly due to their resistance to layering instruments and vocals, DBA leave plenty of room for vocals without making their songs sound cluttered.
Lyrically, every song contains the same vague style where the words do not make much sense to the listener – e.g. “testing the wire really depends on who is holding what end and where the wire ends.” This non-narrative word play can sometimes be off-putting (see: Jets to Brazil’s first record), but DBA’s focus on melodies usually pushes the actual words out of mind. Before long, lines like “droopy dogs and Blistex” won’t even phase the listener.
If there’s a fault to be found, it may in the length. The last couple of songs of the 13 tend to get a little blurred in my memory. The record is only 38 minutes total but after a half an hour of their full-speed-ahead rock, one almost gets worn out. It’s nitpicking to be sure, since every time I put in the record, I am blown away by the energy.
Word is, their live show is kick-ass as well (and, really, how couldn’t it be?). If I am to believe the liner photos, Jeanie plays a Gibson Explorer and that is just fucking bad ass. Dirt Bike Annie are the perfect repast for an audience hungry for indie-rock with the emphasis on rock.