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Dirty Faces - Get Right With God

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Artist: Dirty Faces

Album: Get Right With God

Label: Brah

Review date: Nov. 6, 2006

It's fun to be loud. It's also not that hard. Dirty Faces kick off their new album with a batch of loud, hard and entertaining noise-blues. The band explodes on the one over and over again. T. Glitter, the frontman, sputters madman messages. There's a sense that the whole album is going to lurch like a lost set from the Killdozer and Scratch Acid days. Solid stuff, but still probably losing something in the translation from live gig to studio.

Then the "Like A Thief" shows up. With an easygoing bassline, braying vocals and two guitars meandering around each other, it's not only a convincing recreation of qualude abuse, it's a real ballad. And Dirty Faces start accomplishing something much rarer - heavy rock that's got more going for it than just swagger. The riffs are simple, the crescendos are towering but hardly indulgent, and the words coax vivid moods without getting wordy. They're like longhair tracks that the '77 punks would have deemed worthy of carrying forward.

All this focused fire is coming from an unlikely source. Dirty Faces have been hanging around Pittsburgh for years, and like the city itself, they've been getting by without making progress. Their last record had inspired moments, but was bogged down in lowbrow camp and burnt-out smarts - the lines "drug free motherfucking America" are sung within a few minutes of "each metatextual clue leads me to you." With this record, it's like the angel of Lester Bangs descended, slapped them up a bit, and told them to stop fucking around. Get right with God indeed.

They twist through slower and faster numbers. Amused lyrics follow refrains filled with dread. The goofs make the stark stuff all the starker. So a speedy ode to Steelers legend (and motivational speaker) Rocky Bleier doesn't lighten the mood, it tightens it, making room for a stoned dirge. The record's peaks, "Watching the War from Above" and "Rust in My Eyes," are so huge and raw, they don't feel like they were composed so much as conjured up in desperation. In "War," slow chords descend over a broken barroom piano. It shares the feel of late-Vietnam Iggy Pop, but it's a lament for a war being lost right now. No threat of the draft, no new technology, just the sense that something strong is slipping away. "Rust" sinks even deeper. A swirl of blues and metal riffs circling the drain, it paints a picture of a group of friends doomed to hang out and corrode.

Dirty Faces' view from the gutter isn't exactly wisdom born of pain. But if you go slumming long enough, you take the same hard knocks as every other resident of the bar. They're the opposite of a hungry young band, eager to pay some dues. What if no one ever came to collect? Flip around the FM dial for an afternoon, and you will surely come by Aerosmith singing "All these lines in my face getting clearer." Give in to it's autumnal regret. Its a decent song. Then remember it's being sung by a 24 year-old who's about to become a millionaire, who's gonna milk a few decent songs for the rest of his life, long after the lines in his face show up for real. Get Right with God is the opposite of all that.

By Ben Donnelly

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