The Dishes

The Dishes serve up the kind of snotty, snarly, stop-start garage punk that's enjoyed a minor vogue of late, thanks to successive Next Big Things the Strokes, the Hives, the Vines (see above) and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Indeed, the dirt-rock cognoscenti will no doubt cleave to this female-fronted Chicago quartet on the basis of its guitar sound alone: Sarah Staskauskas' and Kiki Yablon's filthy, fuzz-coated riffs howl, thunder and groan with the requisite '70s Detroit grime/glam grandeur. With songs about jailbait, groupies and crankin' the Troggs (on eight-track, natch), the Dishes obviously understand the power of "getdown gutbucket rock and roll" (to borrow a phrase from its greatest defender, Lester Bangs).

What keeps the Dishes from the empty retro posturing so prevalent among their peers is soul and smarts. On their second full-length, 1-2 (released on No. 89 Records), they make you wonder what Wire might have sounded like if they'd been given sex-change operations and transplanted to a Midwestern garage (and, no, the answer isn't Elastica). Singer Staskauskas sneers along with the best of 'em: "Do you need some sex to be sexy?" she asks on the lethally catchy opening track, simultaneously mocking and reveling in the glorious idiocy of the id. It's a captivating contradiction, rock and roll, and the Dishes aren't looking to dismantle it. Quite simply, they rock--unironically, unapologetically, unequivocally--and if you wanna derive from this fact some kind of fashionable postmodernish feminist argument, well, that's your prerogative, but it's really not the point.

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René Spencer Saller