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DMBQ - The Essential Sounds From The Far East

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Artist: DMBQ

Album: The Essential Sounds From The Far East

Label: Estrus

Review date: Oct. 18, 2005

There’s a certain strain of stateside indie-rocker who’ll tell you any music of Japanese vintage is about 10 times better than it actually is. These are the scrawny dudes who love Ghost but mock Zeppelin, who buy Puffy Ami Yumi albums but insist Lindsay Lohan threatens all they hold dear. They’re anime geeks with Rolling Rock breath. And, for once, they’re right, although some of them might not know it yet. Quick, ask them if they know DMBQ. Wait for them to say, "You mean NRBQ?" Then hit them.

For years, the Dynamite Masters Blues Quartet has bridged Japan’s experimental noise and guitar pop scenes – the band includes one-time members of both the Zorn-affiliated screamadelicists Boredoms and the English-bungling surf revivalist combo Shonen Knife – but has itself bucked every trend. While DMBQ shared stages with everyone from Guitar Wolf to Can, it maintained its own mission. In 2001, the band put out a remix disc, and even Buffalo Daughter couldn’t boogie away the grime. Now, with a heavy touring schedule and a comprehensive testament on wax called The Essential Sounds From The Far East, DMBQ prepares to tear the Yanks a new one.

At a time when American garage rock is smeared with mascara and POBAR (pussed-out beyond all recognition), DMBQ hits heavier than a subway car squishing a salaryman who, damn it, just couldn’t work quite hard enough. The guitars weave a thorny blanket of noise. The bass swings low and heavy. The drums sound like a canned food drive falling down a spiral staircase. The vocals would do AC/DC proud.

Out of the box, "She Walks" utilizes everything the band learned: the tight snarl that kept Shonen Knife from being Veruca Salt East; the crafty, on-point pseudo-insanity of Boredoms’ Eye; the balls-out-freak-out aesthetic of Guitar Wolf, albeit with not a smidgen of the sloppiness. Professional though it may be, this is music that places passion over formula until formula is crushed to dust, music that sounds just as good, maybe better, with one channel shot away. "Kowtow not," that’s the only rule in garage rock ethics. It’s too often violated. But DMBQ is a band that could kill traitors.

Suddenly, "DM" hooks a hard louie into hot, foggy electric blues, smothering the brutality under passionate, unrequited longing for something or other. One might call it honorable. Then, with a "heeey!" and a "wow-da--wow--da," "Nothing" freaks us right back out.

By Emerson Dameron

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