Wednesday 27 November 2013

Ned and the Dirt - Giants

Album review by

Every once in a while life gets in the way. You try to make the time for things and there just doesn't seem to be enough time for everything. I've had Ned and the Dirt's latest album lingering in my iPod for a couple of weeks now. It soundtracked a few hours back and forth to work, my daughter heard it enough to start singing along. I kept meaning to find this hour to sit and write about it, then I realised already it has quietly snuck into my psyche, and has been consistently rewarding me with each play. Opener 'Physical Proof' is a seductive and beguiling song. It is a a plea for desire, to fulfil lovers, which grows from an electro-tinged landscape that Justin Vernon used so well with his last Bon Iver album, and also Gayngs. 'Physical Proof''s guitar dances around, twistng and turning on a mesmeric refrain before the last stanza when Ned Durret leans back and unleashes a sonic, kaleidoscopic boom that scorches your eyebrows off and climatically fulfils the song's desires.

Looser, dirtier, 'Boyhood Pride' swaggers into view holding "a broken beer bottle". It is a strutting, raw blast of a song. Like a long and slow dance from a stranger that will forever be etched on your groin. 'Boyhood Pride' has a Faces groove that simply bludgeons you into glorious submission like the smile on Edward Norton's face after a thrilling beating from Tyler Durden. We are then taken back down into the long, hot, steamy night with 'Turkish Delight'. Hands are "on your thigh" as things are "heating up". Durret hits us up with a wickedly pure falsetto that only heightens the song's tension, as that hot night builds from a glance, a smile, to "me coming home with you". All this is soundtracked in a barely controlled crescendo of noise that peaks with a carnal howl and then the breath is exhaled, before we are riding out on some magnificent, epic noise. Like the Afhghan Whigs at their best, 'Turkish Delight' similarly blinds you with its depth and prowess.

Ordinarily after such a ride as 'Turkish Delight', oft what follows has a sense of anti-climax, yet Ned and the Dirts show how good they are, that 'Dear Liza' more than stands tall in the incendiary wake. It is powerfully epic as Durrett truly unleashes his powerful voice. 'Dear Liza' simply absorbs you, daring you to look away, yet you can't as the view is utterly entrancing. 'Dear Liza' has a sense of drama that I've not felt in a long time. A distant cousin to Live's 'Lightning Crashes', but 'Dear Liza' is no rehash and has a timeless classicism to it. 'Dear Liza' spills into 'The River', yet another emotive, skyscraping song that sweeps you up and places you so deep inside that you never want to leave its embrace. It has a harder edge, pushing back and forth, then up into the stratosphere as riffs the size of Jupiter stomp around you and that sky is filled with brilliant flashes of sound. And yet, through it all, there is a masterful undercurrent of tribal restraint, quietly bringing you down to the song's end.

Then we are back with the bourbon and screaming electric blues with 'Sugar'. It takes you to the bar, pours that sweet liquid straight down your throat, gets you dancing with her, and then has you taking her to the sweetest oblivion all the while, "not even knowing your name". Then all to quickly we find ourselves at the last song of 'Giants'. 'In Ronda' is a is a wonderful waltz of marching drums, Durrett's impassioned, raw voice and a tale of "throwing it all away". Then it takes you dancing back up into out atmosphere, gliding amongst the clouds and starlight, closing 'Giants' perfectly. In this day, where there are no restraints of time or quality, 'Giants' is a wonderfully powerful and masterful album that embeds itself deeply into you. If I have one complaint, it's that it is over too quickly, so I promise you will press play again and again, just to be fulfilled. I am so glad that I finally found that hour.

Ned and the Dirt's website

Buy the album

Catch them live:

WED 27 NOV the dragonfly, Hollywood, CA, US
WED 26 FEB Unknown venue, Los Angeles, CA, US
THU 27 FEB Unknown venue, San Diego, CA, US
FRI 28 FEB Unknown venue, Phoenix, AZ, US
SAT 01 MAR Unknown venue, Tucson, AZ, US
TUE 04 MAR Unknown venue, Las Cruces, NM, US
THU 06 MAR Unknown venue, San Antonio, TX, US
FRI 07 MAR Unknown venue, Austin, TX, US
SUN 09 MAR Unknown venue, Austin, TX, US
WED 12 MAR Unknown venue, Dallas, TX, US
SAT 15 MAR Unknown venue, Boulder, CO, US
WED 19 MAR Unknown venue, Salt Lake City, UT, US
FRI 21 MAR Unknown venue, Reno, NV, US
SAT 22 MAR Unknown venue, Sacramento, CA, US
TUE 25 MAR Unknown venue, San Francisco, CA, US
THU 27 MAR Unknown venue, Fresno, CA, US
SAT 29 MAR Unknown venue, Los Angeles, CA, US

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