Dusted Reviews

Demolition Doll Rods - There Is A Difference

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Demolition Doll Rods

Album: There Is A Difference

Label: Swami

Review date: May. 7, 2006

The Demolition Doll Rods distill the rock/soul/blues formula to its purest essence on their fourth full-length album: The dual guitar assault and tribal tom-tom beats elementally simple; the humor juvenile; the singing, mostly by guitarist Margaret Doll Rod, tough and street-smart. Gar Woods' excellent production is minimal and gritty, but focused. It's as immediate and enveloping as a smoky club, but with a top-notch sound system. When the band does call and response, as on "Baby Say Unh!" you can hear their voices and instruments coming from distinctly different directions, converging chaotically on the center, but framed with just enough silence to make the sounds pop.

Margaret's voice is low and rough-edged, very much in the same family as Paybacks' Wendy Case or Detroit Cobras' Rachel Nagy, as she belts and moans and talk-sings the blues. Her singing is a distinctive element of the band's sound, and, moreover, the fact that it's a woman singing these swaggering, sexually-charged songs upends a few of the conventions. It's Margaret, winking and leering, who wants to take you home, who urges you to let yourself go and who nicknames her patient, stay-at-home boyfriend "Lil' Naked." It's only in "Booty Call," sung by Danny Doll Rod, that people worry about the consequences of the R 'n R lifestyle, fretting that "I felt no better / Even though I got to bang her / Until her head was bouncing on the wall," and sounding a little unsure when he brags, "I know I can play that game / At least I think so."

The songs range from boot-stomping rock anthems ("Do It Again," "We Will Ride") to classic covers (Richard and the Young Lions' "Open Up Your Door") to distorted gospel romps ("Amazing Grace"). The best ones, though, are stripped and primitive, riding hypnotically simple blues and gospel riffs into amp-fuzzed oblivion. "Baby Says Unh!" transcends its silly title with a guitar vamp straight out of MC5's songbook, and a vibrating "Waaaaeeaaaah!" borrowed from "Psycho!" An a capella mid-section erupts from all three band members, a lo-fi "Dance to the Music" moment that causes involuntary hip-jutting and arm waving in all but the most inhibited. "Where My Baby Be" has the same ass-moving vibe, this time set to a bouncy girl-group hook that you could double-dutch to.

Doll Rods discover religion late in the album, turning in a scorching cover of "Amazing Grace," then insouciantly declaring that "Nobody do me like Jesus," during the closing "Medley." It's hard to say how ironic they are about this, or any other element of There Is a Difference, but there's very little visible smirk in these tunes. Elsewhere - "Booty Call," "On the Way to School" - the humor is coarse and obvious. (You do have to wonder about a band that's been together 10 years and still singing about high-school hook-ups.)

Perhaps it's just part and parcel of garage rock and its narrow pallette of instruments, riffs and attitudes. For all its lip-service to rebellion, the genre can be a very conservative art form full of ancestor worship, where the household gods tend to be The MC5, The Sonics, The Stooges and the very early Rolling Stones. Energy, personality, that elusive quality known as rawk: that's all that separates great bands from mediocre ones 'round here. Give Demolition Doll Rods credit where it's due. They may not have reinvented the form, but they've nailed it.

By Jennifer Kelly

Read More

View all articles by Jennifer Kelly

Find out more about Swami

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.