The first thing you hear on the Electro-Magnetics' lastest album is former New Bohemian Kenny Withrow's guttural, lurching surf guitar, tuned so loose you'd think the strings were hanging off like a necklace. And that striking visual only serves to elicit more sensory response; you can almost smell the stale room sure to accompany rock like this that's so removed from the mainstream. Those are the kinds of places you're forced to go to hear a band like this one. In a sparkling, pristine venue, they'd feel awkwardly out of place.
But that's just the start: Longtime local blues singer Cricket Taylor's voice here strains with emotional distress and glides to her higher ranges tastefully and effortlessly. Combined with Withrow's guitar work, it makes for a classic sound—but one that, aside from existing under the rock 'n' roll umbrella, defies easy classification. Opener "I Know Better" has a slinkiness to it. "Open Sky" starts out lazy, then explodes, and finally settles into seductive Tarantino-like groove. "Good Cry" slows things to a trashy-yet-sexy crawl—and it's here where Taylor's convincing honesty seems to really leave its dirty ink stamp on you, taking listeners to several different emotional alcoves, all contained in a humid basement that has punk stickers peeling off the walls.
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Turns out Dirty very much lives up to its name. And it's in no need of a wash. Instead, you'll want this one to linger.