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Dirty Shirts’ New Release “Gin & Tonic”

Modern guitar-driven rock doesn’t have to be overindulgent to sport the same lush tonal presence its ancestors wore with pride, and if there’s a single that proves as much this summer, it’s The Dirty Shirts’ new release “Gin & Tonic.” Carnal and string-powered but not totally lacking in melodic charismas more associated with pop than they are the garage rock aesthetics of the fretwork here, “Gin & Tonic” isn’t as complicated as its experimental design would initially have us believe it to be. The Dirty Shirts are a fairly stripped-down outfit compared to those who came before them, but all in all, they aren’t devoid of their influences’ monstrous energy.

The southern rock cues in this piece are difficult to ignore, especially in the first half of the track, but they’re equal to the blues elements we get from the guitar parts exclusively. You can tell that Americana is important to The Dirty Shirts’ style, but it’s just a slice instead of the whole pie. Their attitude in this release is pure punk rock, but when incorporated with the barebones componentry of their songwriting, it makes for something that isn’t quite The Stooges nor Drive-By Truckers; it’s their own brand of weird and wired rock n’ roll.

Our vocalists battle the drums for the spotlight as we work towards the climax in “Gin & Tonic,” but at the end of their melee, it’s the audience walking away winners. The Dirty Shirts seem like the kind of players who need to be competitive in the studio to deliver the kind of passion their melodic depth suggests they’re capable of, and in this performance, they seem to go out of their way to get as fierce and fiery with one another solely out of a shared desire to push the music farther than anyone else could have.

These beats are on the aggressive side, but from my perspective, I think they need to be for us to connect the emotionality of the verses with the collective drive this band has when every instrument is slamming us against the wall. There’s nothing wrong with getting this physical when you’ve got the compositional moxie to back it up, and though I don’t know whether or not another group could have recorded “Gin & Tonic” with the same success this one has, The Dirty Shirts demonstrate skills every one of their rivals should be envious of this season.

If this is just par for the course this band has laid out before them, you can bet everything you’ve got on “Gin & Tonic” being only the first of many hits for this exciting young indie act. The Dirty Shirts have all the sizzle of a classic rock group mixed with the lyrical ironies and unsophisticated sonic clobbering of contemporary punk and chamber folk, and given that hybridity has become one of the most desirable qualities a band can have in 2021, I think it’s safe to say these players are in more than good shape at the moment.

John McCall

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