Album Reviews

Dan Sartain – Dudesblood

(One Little Indian) UK release date: 28 April 2014

Dan Sartain - Dudesblood If you were around when The White Stripes first hit it big, there’s a chance you might have heard of Dan Sartain. If you like your rock to come from a garage and your roll to be laden with sexy swagger, you’ve probably heard of Dan Sartain.

If this review is genuinely the first time you have ever heard of him, plug yourself into his incredible 2003 effort Dan Sartain vs. The Serpientes. It’s a corker. The three studio albums between that and his new one Dudesblood have been, to be honest, a bit of a mixed bag. But here’s the good news – Dudesblood is a mixed bag of the good kind.

Eclecticism in rock ‘n’ roll is usually mistaken for a lack of ideas or too many unfinished ones – in the case of true artists and interesting musicians, eclecticism can just be due to smoking too much weed (case in point: Pavement’s Wowee Zowee.) The one conclusion that can be drawn from Dudesblood is: Dan Sartain is smoking some pretty heavy doobies.

The eclectic nature of Dudesblood is the main attraction: it’s a hybrid of Sartain’s signature swaggering rock and roll, with some tasty hints of industrial, metal and rap thrown in for good measure. And that’s just the opener; the title track is a pumping, grinding effort with shredding guitar, crunchy electronics and some off-kilter rap-yowling. It’s a joyous ride through a kaleidoscopic mind – and the chorus line “You’ve got dudes blood” makes about as much sense as the musical elements the track is composed of. Which is plenty.

The second tune – a cover of The Knifes Pass This On – thunders in with a monstrous drum sound and some genuinely inventive calypso touches courtesy of DJ Bonebreak (of the LA punk legends X). The lyrics, as with all Sartain songs – even the ones he hasn’t written – are hilarious: “I’m in love with your brother/What’sisname?” It’s funny because he’s not Karin Dreijer Andersson. It’s a genius track.

The craziness continues throughout, producing some genuine moments of brilliance, not least the fantastically-titled Circle Jerks homage Smash The Tesco. Sartain’s punk yowl is spot-on – he sounds like Keith Morris, if Keith Morris was a satirical/ironic clone of himself. Making sense yet?

The hardcore workout of Smash The Tesco is as impressive as the David Bowie-via-late-night-TV-flavoured Rawhide Moon. Rawhide Moon has a cowboy beat, whip-cracks and teetering guitar twangs rolling about in the background.

Moonlight Swim’s chilled out Hawaiian vibe is similar to what Mac was getting at on his absurdly remarkable Salad Days LP earlier this year – stoners envisioning themselves on the Anaehoomalu Beach , presumably with some leis and dancing ladies and a pound of weed. The fact that it was once a hit for Elvis isn’t really a surprise, is it? He had THE chilled-out Hawaiin phase of all chilled-out Hawaiian phases.

HPV Cowboy is another treat – human papillomavirus never sounded so much fun: “Now I’m grey/And now I’m old/Stuck my penis in the gloryhole” is a beautiful line, don’tcha think? There’s words about “working pussy” and how shagging can kill. His faux-maudlin tone is quite frankly hilarious, too.

If it wasn’t Smash The Tesco, the best song on Dudesblood would be You Don’t Know Anything At All – it’s a fierce garage-rock stomper with a killer guitar sound and a barrelling rhythm. It’s the closest thing – on this record – to what people would ordinarily expect from Sartain. He’s known for his bruising riff-o-rama, and this track is evidence of his ability to cram a refreshing blast of punk ‘n’ roll into two minutes.

Sartain’s songwriting (and choice of covers) is superb throughout, and the album is immaculately sequenced. But that’s not really the main appeal of this record – the appeal is that it’s eclectic, and that it’s funny. He comes across at various points on the album as some reckless comedian willing to trash several sacrosanct musical genres in the pursuit of a giggle. Rest assured, giggles are to be found here, and with Smash The Tesco he might have just made the funniest – and most relevant – punk song in aeons. Dudesblood is an absolute treasure of a record, don’t miss it.

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More on Dan Sartain
Dan Sartain – Dudesblood
Dan Sartain – Too Tough To Live