The Dirty Novels are at it again.
No, I don't mean this CD release show (with the usual suspects: raucous Romeo Goes To Hell, lovely Unit 7 Drain, and stomp 'n' roll the Gracchi, plus Cellophane Typewriters—a new one on me, but I hear they're psych/garage).
And no, not the handful of new tunes on the 11-song Stealing Kisses.
Neither am I referring to the latest in a series of lineup changes. Frontman Pauli B. is the sole founding member, ex-guitarist from one of the best '90s Burque bands, the overlooked and untamed Chinese Love Beads. Next in tenure is former-bassist now-drummer, venerable Joey Gonzales (ex-Icky & the Yuks and ex-too many to count) who, with newest Novel Len Apodaca (Scenester, GoMotorCar) is part of the Atomic Cantina team. At mid-point is bassist Dandee Fleming, moonlighting from local pop masters Lousy Robot.
What Las Novelas Cochinas are up to is, chameleon-like, changing shades of color and nuance with a broad reworking of arrangements and lyrics on their oldest songs; moving further from their tumbling-dice beginnings a couple of years back when every person in the crowd would look at each other and say "Rolling Stones." This observation was only half-apt (more Keith than Mick) and good only as far as Stones LPs before they played into Their Satanic Majesties hype. Yeah, Jagger/Richards can still be heard, but listen: so can Boyce & Hart and a touch of Otis Redding.
Besides revising their sound, Paul says the band's own short attention span is "like anyone's in the crowd. If they're getting bored with it, so are we." Changing a line here, cutting an intro short there and maybe shortening a song by a whole 30 seconds, the Novels are as ruthless as Phil Spector or Berry Gordy looking for a precise sound, a sound which likely as not will change after the next show and the crowd's (and band's own) reaction.
Recorded in the familiarity of their practice space—Joey's garage—this release is a bit looser than their self-titled 2004 studio debut, not nearly as "produced." If it seems downtempo compared to their live set, it's only because the bolstering paisley crowd dancing around you is missing.
Former lead guitarist Adam Turner is here, saying his essential musical goodbyes to the band right before Apodaca climbed aboard for the Novels' recent East Coast tour. Len will have some work to do to fill those big patent white shoes of Adam's, but bets are he'll pull it off.
Familiar but fresh, the beauty of the Dirty Novels is that you can jump right in and dance even if you've never heard them before, like someone spinning '60s garage or Merseybeat, you know where it's going. But there might be a musical detour along the way.
When you attend this CD release party, pick a copy of the current road map, otherwise known as Stealing Kisses.