Dorothy | ROCKISDEAD | Rating: 8/11 |
Handclaps, nasty guitar licks and a biting growl delivering the provocative taunt of “Kiss It” is your official introduction to ROCKISDEAD and, safe to say, it’s the weakest track on the album. While a serviceable and fairly straightforward (yet Bo Diddley-sque) opening volley, it hardly preps you for the far more muscular bangers to come. Three songs into ROCKISDEAD and Dorothy Martin and her crew of Zac Morris (drums), DJ Black (guitar) and Gregg Cash (bass) unleash a gutsy battle cry fully layered in a filthy sheen of danger, decadence and good times of the most unsanctified kind with “Raise Hell.” Raise a little or raise a lot, but do raise a glass to a new crew of unabashed torchbearers of rock. Raise that glass to Dorothy.
“Young blood came to start a riot / Don’t care what your old man say”
Here’s an album that consists of 11 songs that – if whiskey had an audible presence – would bear a striking resemblance to that 7-year old bottle of Jameson buried beneath the file folders in your desk. Mark Jackson and Ian Scott’s production has given every song a dense, fuzzy distortion that manages to land on the correct side of the effects fence: neither the instrumentation nor Martin’s profoundly powerful alto and laser-sharp vibrato are obstructed from view because what a fucking travesty if they were. Instead, this modern record made in the 2016 bears tones and textures of albums made some 40 years back. And with rawness and rebellion, shadows and love’s emotional bruises (as well as living life on a somewhat jagged edge) are drawn, projected and scorched. Sprawling and tempestuous, “Woman” digs the darkest, bluesy-est hole with the punishing percussion of Cash and Morris as the foundation for Martin’s demands; demands so vehemently made, they may have an opposite (Read: emasculating) effect. But pretty much all is fair in love and, well, whatever caused Martin to write a song like that.
If you’re not familiar with a guy named Hugo and the alternative rock/banjo treatment he gave to “99 Problems,” once you get past the “Huh?” factor of this straight up rock band being signed to Roc Nation Records (yeah, that label of Jay Z, hip hop and things more urban-stream) and you absorb the nature of the music that Dorothy – a band less than three years old – dishes out, it begins to make incrementally more sense. Swagger and attitude. Balls to the wall and guts. Glory and a good time. Rock n roll and hip hop – while on a sonic level, may seem diametrically opposed – are more principally aligned that we tend to think and help yourself to a quick Google search to observe and possibly be floored by how they absolutely owned that Kanye West/Jay Z number, “No Church In The Wild.” Black’s grazing guitar tones (earthily thick on “Wicked Ones” then on fire in “After Midnight”) work in contrast to the pummeling and inherently soulful and leaden stomp beats that weave from song to song, like a stream of hot blood forcibly pumping through a narrow vein. It’s the album’s innate, heady pulse and it’s damned seductive especially since the record’s only true objective is to make your blood move.
Either ROCKISDEAD is really good and it’s being given its due props here or the record’s terrible, yet I’m just so damned grateful to finally find another woman with balls, bravado and a voice above a wafer-thin, simpering soprano step up to the plate in high heels and a fur coat and be a fierce musical force of nature/powerhouse rock goddess-in-training.
Survey says: ROCKISDEAD is a damned good, very not terrible, refreshing and necessary thunderous calling card announcing Dorothy’s arrival and, yeah, that “…woman with balls, bravado and a voice…” stuff applies, too.