Alive Naturalsound Records has released yet another noteworthy album—“Blades of Grass” by Memphis-based Southern rock trio Dirty Streets. With raw, driving riffs, precise yet dynamic drumming, big solos, and intense vocal deliveries, as well as occasional keys and harmonica accompaniment, Dirty Streets have fashioned a sound of classic guitar rock meets plugged-in blues meets folk rock meets psychedelia. Almost instantly I thought to myself that this band’s sound occupies a recognizable place between seedy dive bar music and stadium music…two sides of a coin, as it were, the kind of duality that can potentially see such a band ascend to a point somewhere along the charted territories between lowly obscurity and deserved acknowledgment.
Having never listened to Dirty Streets’ music before this album, I didn’t know what to expect when I received my copy of it. I loaded it into my stereo and sat down to familiarize myself with them. And upon listening intently to the first half of the opener, Stay Thirsty, I was admittedly tempted to consider them a Black Crows facsimile, since it was so very similar to what I had heard from them in passing over the years. But as I moved further along into the album’s material, perhaps halfway through, I began thinking that they couldn’t be all that similar to The Black Crows, at least not enough to be a facsimile. You see, I found myself to some extent enjoying Dirty Streets, or at least some of their songs, while I don’t care at all for The Black Crows. And by the time I reached the album’s end, with the closer I Believe I Found Myself, I had to a degree changed my opinion of them. Granted, they were still somewhat comparable to The Black Crows—not all of their songs, mind you, yet more than a couple—but even more than that, I was reminded of the music I had grown up with under my parents’ roof. Mostly the classic guitar rock and bluesy psychedelic rock from my father’s record collection; you know, bands like Jimi Hendrix, Jethro Tull, and Led Zeppelin, to name a few. But then there was also a contemporary edge to Dirty Streets’ sound, one decidedly closer to the mainstream, with comparisons to, as I’ve already mentioned, The Black Crows, and Gov’t Mule, Lenny Kravits, Them Crooked Vultures, Dead Meadow, and the like.
Even the cover art for “Blades of Grass” has a ‘60s and ‘70s quality to it. On the front, there’s a woman’s face, pale as porcelain, with red lips and long fiery tresses, backed by a tripped-out setting of clouds, a starry night sky, naked tree branches, and swirls of earthy colors. On the back, the clouds, night sky, tree branches and earth tones continue. But there is also this peculiar geometric shape art, including a series of pyramids with the all-seeing eye at their apexes (the symbol of the Illuminati, and also part of the design on the back of the U.S. dollar bill); and at the bottom right-hand corner, the tracklisting. On the inside panel of the case is a band photo, at the center of which the members are holding a painting depicting unspoiled nature and a Native American chief, all decked-out in big feather headdress and other such adornments, standing beside a young brave, arms akimbo and sporting a single feather upon his head. Fitting, somehow. And beneath the plastic disc holder are the band members’ names and corresponding instrumentation, recording details, additional musicians and their contributions to the album, and so forth.
“Blades of Grass” by Dirty Streets—incidentally, and for obvious reasons, is a title that unavoidably makes me think of Walt Whitman’s early book of poems, “Leaves of Grass”—is a fine effort by a band whose sound is carried forth from the not too distant past, particularly the rock music of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, the blue-collar white-boy blues rock of the ‘80s and ‘90s, up to the folk rock and psychedelia revival of today. In that respect, while not the most original-sounding album, it is a rather bold and versatile sound that Dirty Streets owns. And the songs on “Blades of Grass” serve as evidence of that.
“Blades of Grass” by Dirty Streets is available now from Alive Naturalsound Records on CD, LP, or digital download. The Dirty Streets tour schedule is also posted at the label’s website. Make it out to a show and support the artists that exist outside of today’s mainstream music.